Growing your own food quickly and inexpensively can be done with many of the same vegetables you see in the grocery store. Radishes, for instance, take as little as three weeks to grow and can be planted in a single row in small gardens. Zucchinis are another fast crop that begin producing in as little as 35 days. Many vegetables will continue to produce after the plants have reached maturity, such as bush beans and leaf lettuce. With just a few rows of plants, you can produce a summer’s worth of healthy foods for you and your family.
Radishes (Raphanus sativus) are harvested three to five weeks after planting and are one of the fastest growing root vegetables for home gardeners. Baby spike, a type of baby carrot (Daucus carota), matures in only 52 days. Turnips (Brassica rapa) can be harvested at 60 days. The turnip greens can also be harvested along with the root. Beets (Beta vulgaris) mature in 55 to 70 days, but beets can be harvest at 40 days maturity. These “baby” beets are tender and sweet, and are prepared the same way as fully mature beets.
The wonderful thing about leaf vegetables is that after the plants have reached maturity, you can continuously harvest the leaves until the end of the growing season. Leaf lettuce (Lactuca sativa) takes only 40 days to reach maturity. Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) takes 45 days to reach maturity. Kale (Brassica oleracea acephala) takes up to 60 days to reach maturity.
Beans and Peas
Bean and pea plants continue to flower and produce more pods after each harvest, making them a great addition to the garden for a continuous supply of fresh food. Bush beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), also called snap beans or string beans, are grown in USDA zones 3-10. The beans take 57 days to reach maturity. Daybreak, an early spring pea (Pisum sativum), can be harvest as little as 54 days after planting.
Cucumbers and Zucchinis
Cucumber and zucchini plants produce a bountiful harvest that will need to be picked every few days after the plant has reached maturity. Cucumbers (Cucumis Sativus) take 50 to 70 days to reach maturity. Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) reaches maturity much sooner than cucumbers. Being a summer squash with a fast growth rate, zucchini reaches maturity in 35 to 55 days.