A must-have leafy green vegetable, spinach provides several heart-healthy nutrients like potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc. It is also an excellent source of vitamin A that protects against poor eyesight and eventual vision loss. Additionally, the antioxidants in spinach help fortify the immune system against infection and disease.
Spinach is also a “heavy feeder,” which means it requires more nutrients than the average plant. As long as it gets enough nutrients, you can expect to harvest spinach in as little as four to six weeks. To ensure the vegetable grows well, mix at least 2 to 4 inches of compost in the soil and plant the seeds an inch apart. Cover the seeds with at least 1.5 inches of soil and water frequently. Most gardeners like to plant spinach in the fall since it thrives best in cold weather, and it can also tolerate a bit of frost.
This crunchy root vegetable is an excellent source of vitamin A, and it also provides several antioxidants that help enhance immunity. Carrots also support digestion and boost metabolism thanks to high levels of soluble fiber.
To grow carrots, plant the seeds about two inches apart and keep the soil moist. Carrot seeds sprout best in loose, rock-free soil. But if you have heavy soil, just mix in organic compost and add a bit of sand to loosen it up. Carrots also require plenty of sunlight, so it's best to sow them before the last frost. Most varieties of carrots take about 50 to 80 days to mature, but the thin fingerling ones mature in as little as 30 days.
Rich in B complex vitamins, radish helps maintain healthy brain cells to prevent cognitive decline and neurological disorders. Its high fiber content also aids digestion and protects against chronic diseases linked to high blood pressure and high blood sugar levels. (Related: A place for the radish at your dinner table: The vegetable can help manage symptoms of diabetes and even cancer.)
Most varieties of radish mature in just 25 to 30 days, especially when sown in spring. But since radish is a cool-season crop, you can also plant seeds in the fall or at least two weeks before the last frost. Radish also thrives best in sunlight and well-drained, rock-free soil.
A popular salad green, lettuce is one of the easiest vegetables to grow. It usually matures in just 30 days, regardless of variety. To ensure lettuce grows well, use loose, moist and well-drained soil. Mix in organic fertilizer and compost to promote rapid growth. Plant the seeds in rows that are at least 18-inches apart and trim outer leaves as the lettuce head matures.
This spicy cruciferous vegetable is another popular addition to salads. Unlike carrots and lettuce heads, the arugula plant itself continues to grow leaves after every harvest, which is why it's a popular garden staple. Rich in bone-healthy nutrients like calcium and vitamin K, arugula helps prevent osteoporosis. Its sulfur-rich plant compounds also protect against heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and cancer.
Unlike spinach, arugula is not a cold-hardy vegetable Plant the seeds as early as April, and choose a spot in the garden that receives plenty of sunlight. It typically matures in just 30 days when planted in moist, well-drained and nutrient-rich soil. Once the plant is one to two feet tall, it should be ready to harvest.
Many leafy greens and root vegetables are incredibly easy to grow. You no longer have to wait several months to enjoy a bountiful, homegrown harvest.