Tending our garden, nurturing our plants, carefully pruning tomatoes, or mulching potato beds is a wonderful part of gardening. It is partly about the process—spending time outside, connecting with the earth, and getting soil under our fingernails. Far from there being urgency or rush related to gardening, it’s a lot about the anticipation of veggies and blooms to come.
A lot of veggies that we grow from seed can take 60 days or more before they are ready to be harvested, and there is simply nothing we can do but wait patiently. The reward is usually worth it! That said, there are a few veggies that we can plant from seed and bring to our plates in 40 days or even less.
So, let’s take a look at a few vegetables you can plant at home that have a relatively quick growing time.
1. Radishes (Raphanus sativus)
Radishes are super fast growers and can be ready for picking in as little as 25 days. The baby radishes can be harvested at this time and are much crispier and a little sweeter than their adult counterparts. What’s more, radish leaves may be harvested at this time and used for salads and sautéeing as you might with kale or collards. Mature radish leaves can be a little fibrous and even prickly, so the younger version is certainly more palatable.
Plant radishes along garden bed edges or in between other, slower-growing seeds that you have planted. The radishes will have matured and been harvested long before they can be bothered by other plants. You can direct sow radish seeds in your garden in early spring in a nice sunny spot. Don’t let the soil dry out much.
2. Turnips (Brassica rapa)
Far from growing an enormous turnip, you can enjoy sweet baby versions of this delicious root veggie in as little as 30 days. The smaller turnips are a lot sweeter and less bitter than more mature ones. If you are just wanting to harvest the greens, you will be in luck in around 30-35 days, too.
You can plant your turnip seeds in early spring or late summer. They are a cool-weather crop and will not do well in the heat of summer. Plant your seeds in loose soil about 1/2 inch deep. The seedlings will eventually need to be thinned out to about 4 inches apart. They need a sunny spot if you are looking to eat the roots. However, if you are growing turnips primarily for their greens, the plants can tolerate a little shade.
3. Baby Beets (Beta vulgaris)
You can buy beet seeds that are geared specifically towards producing baby beets that are only about an inch in diameter when mature, but in reality, you can harvest any beets early for the same baby beet experience. You can be enjoying this delicious root in around 40 days and can munch on their young tender leaves after as little as three weeks after sowing.
Each perceived beet seed is a cluster of about three seeds, so no matter how well you space your seeds initially, you will have to do some thinning. Your plants will need about 3-5 inches of growing space. Beets are cold-hardy, so they can be planted in early spring. You will need to direct seed as they do not transplant well. This is true of many root vegetables. Give them a sunny spot to grow in and about 1 inch of water a week.
4. Arugula (Eruca vesicaria)
Arugula is that ever-so-tasty green that brings a nutty, peppery flavor to lifeless salads. It is super easy to grow, and you can start harvesting in about 30-40 days or when the leaves are about 2 inches in length. You can just take the leaves from the outside of the plant and leave the rest to keep on growing and providing you will salads for days and days to come.
Source: Soleil Aneiro/Youtube
Arugula is a cold-hardy plant that will bolt (go to seed) very quickly when the warm weather rolls around. As a result, you can sow your seeds in early spring while the temperature might still be as cold as 40 degrees F or in late summer for a fall harvest. Seeds should be planted about 1/4 inch deep and should germinate in about a week. Arugula likes a sunny spot and needs about 6 hours of sun a day.
Other greens make fine candidates as fast-growing crops, especially if you are interested in baby greens. Lettuce, kale, mustard, and spinach all produce tender baby greens that can be harvested without pulling up the whole plant. You can leave some plants to reach maturity for a different veggie experience.
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