While some summer vegetables like tomatoes and peppers have a notoriously long growing season, there are a handful of fast-growing vegetables that can be harvested in eight weeks or less after planting. Below, we've rounded up eight of the fastest-growing vegetables to add to your summer garden.
Whether you're getting a late start to the growing season or just an impatient gardener, with these quick-growing plants, you can enjoy bountiful harvests in no time.
How to make vegetables grow faster in your vegetable garden
Though you can't magically make harvest-ready vegetables appear overnight, there are a few things you can do to support speedy plant growth in your vegetable garden:
Start with nutritious soil
To grow quickly, your plants will need nutrient-rich soil that encourages healthy root development and plant growth. Supplement your soil with organic matter like compost or manure at the beginning of the growing season.
Supplement with fertilizer
Even fast-growing vegetables require the occasional boost of fertilizer to speed up growth. For the best results, use a fertilizer designed specifically for use in vegetable gardens.
Underwatering not only slows growth but reduces yield size and causes low-quality produce with cracks and splits. Most vegetable gardens will need to be watered daily (and sometimes twice daily in hot weather) and keep the soil moist. If you're watering correctly, the top inch of your garden soil will feel moist but not soggy.
Ensure sufficient sunlight
Most fast-growing vegetables will need at least six to eight hours of sunlight per day. Before planting, double-check the light requirements of each plant, so you arrange your garden accordingly.
Pest control to maximize harvests
Preventative pest and weed control ensure you don't waste your gardening efforts on pest-ridden vegetables. But before using an insecticide or weed-killer to get rid of weeds or pests, you'll need to double-check that the product is safe for use in edible gardens.
What are the easiest and fastest-growing vegetables?
Most of the fast-growing vegetables on this list are cool-season crops that do best in early spring or late summer when the temperatures are cooler. If you're planting during the peak of summer, you may want to consider planting in part shade conditions or covering your plants for a portion of the day.
Arugula, also known as rocket or roquette, is one of the fastest-growing leafy greens. The earlier the leaves are harvested, the sweeter and more tender they'll be. While arugula's peppery, mustard-like flavor is delicious in salads and grain bowls, it also makes a great topping for pizza or pasta. Plus, its shallow roots make it an excellent choice for container gardening.
Grow time— 45 to 60 days
Bok choy, sometimes referred to as pak choi, is a fast-growing Chinese cabbage that's a great addition to soups, salads, stir-fries, and other Chinese cooking. There are two common varieties that grow well in partial shade with consistent watering: standard bok choy (typically 1 to 2 feet tall) and baby bok choy (typically 10 inches tall or less).
Grow time— 45 to 60 days
Broccoli is a nutrient-rich, fast-growing vegetable that's incredibly versatile in the kitchen. The plant prefers full sun, so you'll want to sow the seeds in a spot that gets between 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight each day. Additionally, broccoli plants prefer soil that's slightly acidic (with a pH level of 6 to 7), so you'll want to add organic matter to the soil and sprinkle a bit of acidic fertilizer every few weeks. When grown from transplants, they'll reach maturity in around six weeks.
Grow time— 55 to 80 days
Bush beans, also called snap beans or string beans, are one of the best fast-growing vegetables for first-time gardeners. Unlike pole beans, bush beans don't require stakes or trellises. Instead of vining, bush beans grow in a small, bushy shape that's easy to care for and contain. While they're great for canning and freezing, your freshly-picked green beans taste delicious when cooked fresh from the vine with a little olive oil and seasoning.
Grow time— 50 to 60 days
If you've never tasted home-grown carrots, you're missing out! With nutritious soil and a caring green thumb, your carrots will be far tastier and crunchier than your average store-bought bag. And while many full-size carrot varieties take at least 70- days to mature, your baby carrots will be ready to harvest within just six weeks of sowing. They grow best in full sun and cool weather, making them well-suited for early spring and late summer months.
Grow time— 30- 45 days
Kale is incredibly cold-tolerant compared to other quick-growing vegetables, making it an excellent choice for quick harvests in the late summer and early fall. Home-grown kale is delicious raw in a grain or salad bowl and makes for delicious kale chips in your oven or air fryer. But be sure to give your kale plants plenty of water, as underwatering can lead to tough, butter leaves. When it comes time to harvest, snip only the large outer leaves to allow the smaller inner leaves to reach full maturity.
Grow time— 40-55 days
Mustard greens are a leafy green with a bright, peppery flavor. Like most other leaf lettuce, they prefer early spring and late summer conditions. If you're planting your mustard greens during the peak of summer, you'll want to choose a location that gets a bit of shade throughout the day. Additionally, you'll need to keep your mustard green plants well-watered to avoid a tough texture and bitter flavor.
Grow time— 40 days
When it comes to fast-growing vegetables, radishes provide some of the quickest results. Plus, they're incredibly easy to grow! The seeds can be sown directly in your garden instead of needing to be started from seed indoors.
The root vegetable grows best in cooler months and has the best flavor and texture in spring and fall. In addition to regular red radishes, sow a few seeds from heirloom varieties with different shapes, colors, and spicy flavors.
Grow time— 20 to 30 days
Spinach is a nutritious leafy green vegetable that grows quickly and can be harvested multiple times throughout the season. Once the individual leaves are ready, snip them off one by one, allowing the younger leaves to continue growing and reach full maturity. Spinach grows well in cool weather and can be planted in either full sun or part shade. To get successive harvests, re-sow seeds every few weeks, and as soon as you can pluck the out leaves of your current crop.
Grow time— 30 days
Turnips are one of the easiest and fastest-growing root vegetables out there. While they yield the best results in moderate temperatures and full sun, they can be planted throughout the entire growing season in most growing zones and can tolerate partial shade if need be.
Another perk of growing turnips is that both the leaves and roots can be edible. Turnip greens taste best when harvested young and turnip roots when they've reached 2-3 inches in circumference.
Grow time— 40 to 55 days
Lettuce is another one of the easiest and fastest-growing leafy greens to grow in your garden. Depending on your zone, lettuce can be grown year-round. Sowing seeds directly into the soil and water frequently and consistently. When grown in spring and fall, make sure your lettuce is planted in full sun. When grown in hot summer, the lettuce would appreciate partial shade in the afternoon to cool.
Grow time- 30 to 55 days
Snow peas, unlike the other vegetables, can be grown even in the coldest parts of winter. Best to sow seeds in fall and winter, you can even plant the seeds 4-6 weeks before the first expected frost. For healthy growth, it needs to be grown in a spot with 6-8 hours of sun and consistent watering and fertilizing.
This vegetable pairs well with carrots, radishes, beans, and potatoes in the garden.
Grow time- 60 days