March 6, 2023

8 Crops to grow quickly

When I first started growing food, I was impatient to have something to show for my hard work and so I grew the following crops that I knew that I could harvest quickly.  I was so excited about eating homegrown food that I just couldn’t wait.  I still, however grow these crops regularly as there are lots of other reasons to grow vegetables and salad that can be harvested in  a short time.

  1. It might be coming to the end of the growing season and I want something that I can harvest before winter.
  2. I have a small growing space and so want to double my harvest by being able to harvest a plant that grows quickly before another plant matures and needs the space.
  3. I may need an activity for the grand children that shows results quickly.
  4. I will often plant successional crops so that I have a longer season and more food
  5. I am trying to save money and need organic food quickly.
  6. I want to fill the hunger gap in Spring when food preserved from the year before has run low.
  7. I am just impatient.

Whatever the reason, these are 8 crops that I grow quickly, that can be eaten in no time after sowing. They are an easy way to add variety to meals, save money and provide me with organic, healthy produce.


Most of us remember the days of growing cress at school as an activity.  It grows so fast that it can be ready to eat in less than a week.  It doesn’t even need to soil to grow but can be grown on a window sill on damp cotton wool. To grow it outside you just sow the seeds close together in a pot or in the ground.  Egg and cress sandwiches might have gone out of fashion but they taste so good and are a healthy lunch.


This can be ready to eat in about 3 weeks if eaten young.  Lettuce seeds can be sown close together in a container to have a crop that you constantly harvest the individual leaves from (only take a couple from each individual plant), or they can be sown about 20cm apart to grow into a full lettuce. By sowing seeds every 2 to 3 weeks you will ensure a constant supply of lettuce all season. Lettuce is not only lovely in salads, but if you have too much, or it starts to wilt, it can make a lovely soup too.  I tend to grow some lettuce in a big box so that become larger, but I also grow some in a catering sized mushroom box that I use at cut and come again throughout most of winter.


Radishes take between 28 and 36 days until they can be harvested and they can be grown either in the ground or in containers. Try to sow them a few cm apart from each other to give them room to grow.  Radishes are not just nice in a salad, but are great pickled, or sliced in a stir fry too.  I grow lots and slice them and freeze them to put in a winter stir fry.


Spinach is usually ready in a month.  It is best grown in a shady area to stop it bolting, or to stop the leaves going bitter.  Spinach is great for adding nutrition to any meal and is lovely cooked with eggs for breakfast, thrown in a curry, or eaten when young in a salad.  I sowed some perpetual spinach in autumn this year, kept it in an unheated greenhouse, it froze during early in the new year and so I thought that I had lost it, but it then recovered and is still producing now in March.


Peas take about 12 to 14 weeks to grow but you don’t have to wait that long to eat them. Pea shoots taste great in salad or stir fries. All the pea plant is edible and so you can grow them to use as shoots or let them pod.  The pods can make a great soup.   A pot can take 2 or 3 climbing peas, or I plant them closer together if just wanting shoots.


These are usually ready for picking in 8 to 10 weeks.  They can be planted in containers or in the ground.  The easiest way to sow them is by grouping 5 or 6 seeds together so that they grow like a bunch and can be picked that way.  They have a milder flavour than other onions but they can be used in the same way, or in a salad or stir fry.


This takes about 8 to 10 weeks to mature, but young leaves can be harvested from about 5 weeks.  They are great in salad or for bulking out a stir fry, and can be grown in the ground or a container.  I think that this was my most useful crop last year as I was able to harvest it quite quickly and it really filled the hunger gap when not much of substance was growing.  It does not like heat or it will bolt, but I grew mine in spring and then again in autumn


This takes about 6 weeks to grow but can be picked young for salads (only take 2 to 3 leaves from each plant).   It has a peppery taste that is great with pizza and gives salads an extra kick.  Rocket can become bitter if left to mature for too long.

These are all crops that will grow quickly but any harvest lots of crops quickly when grown as microgreens.  They are the same seeds that you would normally use but I harvest them as seedlings when they get the first set of true leaves.  They are best sown in containers, sown densely, and can be ready in under 3 weeks.  They are full of nutrition and flavour.  This is a great way to use up seeds at the end of the season so that they don’t go out of date and waste. Broccoli, kale, chard, cabbage, basil and coriander all make great microgreens.  The taste is intensified and so only sow crops you like.

What are your favourite crops that you grow and harvest quickly?


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  1. Georgie Peters March 6, 2023 at 10:49 am - Reply

    I am going to try growing salad veges in my window boxes this year, l had one tomato plant last year that l ‘found ‘ growing by my front door, l think a birdie left a seed, I transplanted it to the window box by the back door and was rewarded with some very sweet cherry tomatoes.

    • ToniG March 6, 2023 at 2:07 pm - Reply

      Brilliant. Every little helps and gardening is good for health as well. Thanks for commenting x

  2. Anne March 6, 2023 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    Hi Toni
    I would like to grow pak choi and spinach did you grow from seed indoors, then plant out. I live in Scotland and it’s better to leave planting outside until May as it can still be cold.

    • ToniG March 6, 2023 at 8:17 pm - Reply

      Yes I planted them both inside. My area is cold too.

  3. Eve March 6, 2023 at 6:00 pm - Reply

    My friend has just brought me some cucumber and courgette seeds back from her holiday. Two of my favourite things to grow.

  4. Lesley Hanson March 21, 2023 at 10:02 am - Reply

    I love spinach but have never tried to grow it. I definitely will this year.

    • ToniG March 21, 2023 at 5:58 pm - Reply

      I find perpetual spinach the best to grow. I planted some last September and it in my greenhouse and I am still getting a couple of handfuls now in March.

      • Robyn March 30, 2023 at 10:22 am - Reply

        Hi from New Zealand. I like to have an abundance of Italian parsley in the garden, as a good handful can help supplement my intake of leafy greens. Chopped through salads and in any cooked dish you can think of, or a generous sprinkling over the top of the meal. I also harvest nasturtium leaves for salads, and puha (think it’s called sow thistle elsewhere) which is a nutritious edible weed that grows abundantly through my garden and lawn. Most things bolted to seed in our summer heat, but we’re in early autumn now so I’m about to plant some more coloured swiss chard, sprouting broccoli, leeks, and spinach. As an aside from quick growing veges, fruit plants are mostly perenniale which is great as a one-time investment. I have several enormous rhubarb plants (was gifted a big old plant from a friend 2 years ago and it divided up perfectly) which thrive beside the compost bin, my mandarin tree is drooping with all of the fruit that will ripen over winter/spring (I only had 8 fruit on it last year and this year there are hundreds), and the lemon tree is covered in new green fruit but there are still some ripe ones from last season. The summer was a bomb for the plum tree and apricot tree, so next summer should be a bumper crop again. My passionfruit plant was murdered by an over-enthusiastic son-in-law, but I found two little seedlings sprouted in a crack of the footpath outside the fence so I gently pulled them out, gave them some seaweed tonic and have them both planted in a pot until they’re a bit bigger. Then I’ll plant them out. I also have recently planted 5 small feijoa trees which will eventually grow into an edible hedge. Feijoas are a very kiwi home-garden fruit. Delicious and fruit prolifically, but are relatively unknown in many countries. I also have 2 raspberry plants in pots from a friend, waiting to be planted.
        So those are my edibles so far, but I have plenty of room to be a more diligent vege gardener next spring. I’m glad I didnt plant courgettes in the summer as I was given plenty from my sister’s garden, plus tomatoes. I plan to be more organised next spring as vege prices have skyrocketed, in no small part due to Cyclone Gabrielle a few weeks ago. I live in a fruit and vege growing region and there are orchards, vineyards and crops that have been totally destroyed by being buried under feet of silt when areas flooded due to river stopbanks giving way. So the fruit and vege prices have definitely inspired me to be a more diligent gardener this coming year.
        Meanwhile I have bought a sprouter and a variety of seeds so that I can grow my own sprouts rather than pay the exorbitant supermarket prices. Happy gardening from NZ.

        • ToniG March 30, 2023 at 1:56 pm - Reply

          That sounds wonderful and as if you are already very organised, though it must be devastating for your local farmers. I have a lot of perennial herbs and I also grow a few annual ones but they are only just starting to sprout (except for the rosemary, sage and thyme that have been out all winter). Our prices have nearly doubled on a lot of fresh food and so I am so glad that I have seeds to grow a garden. Thank you for sharing your garden with us. It is so interesting to hear from people in other countries. I had never heard of feijoa trees. Take care and enjoy your gardening x

  5. Lesley Hanson March 21, 2023 at 10:03 am - Reply

    Thank you for all the tips

    • ToniG March 21, 2023 at 5:57 pm - Reply

      No worries. Happy Growing

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