If you’re planning to buy vegetable seedlings, don’t just randomly choose from the store’s wide selection. You may fall into the trap of buying everything that appeals to you at first glance, but it is better to gather information about the plants in advance.

It often happens that new garden owners buy various seeds and seedlings on the spur of the moment. However, in order to make an informed decision, it is advisable to gather information first.

As a beginner gardener, you don’t necessarily have to make the same mistakes as your peers. Don’t hesitate to ask more experienced gardeners or your neighbors for advice on what vegetables to grow in your garden. Below we highlight five vegetables that even novice gardeners can try their hand at.

Growing parsley, radishes, kale, radicchio and arugula should not be a problem. The first two prefer sunlight, and apart from that, they have no extra requirements in terms of growing conditions. The other three thrive in the shade and tolerate the cold well.

1. Parsley

Although, strictly speaking, parsley is officially classified as a medicinal herb, it is one of the best choices for the first kitchen garden. If you think about it: have you ever seen a vegetable garden without parsley? It is a very adaptable plant that grows well in sunny and semi-shady places. Unlike radishes, growing them from seed is much more time-consuming, it can take two to three weeks for them to sprout. It is therefore worthwhile to start germinating parsley indoors, in small seedling cups, three months before the date of the last expected frost. So later, when the danger of frost has passed, the developed seedlings can be planted outdoors.

Parsley is a biennial plant, which means it develops foliage and roots in the first year; its leaves can already be harvested in abundance. In the second year, it develops a seed stalk and produces flowers; then its foliage can still be harvested, although it may be less palatable. In the case of root parsley, the root can be harvested in the fall of the second year, which can be used in many ways in the kitchen.

2. Radish

Growing radishes is almost child’s play: they sprout easily from seed and start growing quickly. It develops at such a fast pace that you can start harvesting in a few weeks. Plant it 1-1.2 cm “deep” in carefully prepared, loose soil. Because it likes cooler, moist soil, you can expect the best yields if you grow it in spring or possibly fall.

The secret to fresh, crunchy radishes is harvesting at the right time. A common mistake is to wait too long and pull the radishes out of the ground too late, when they have already started to get woody and have become unpleasantly spicy. To avoid this, occasionally pull out a radish and taste it.

3. Curly kale

Curly kale is one of the easiest vegetables to grow. If you want to be safe with it, be sure to take care of one thing: don’t delay planting for too long, because if you leave it until the summer months, it can easily go to seed. That’s why it’s best to start growing curly kale in early spring (or fall). It goes to seed easily in warm weather, after which the leaves are less suitable for eating. For best results, sow seeds indoors about six weeks before the last frost. In this way, young plants can sprout in protected conditions when it would still be too cold outside.

When harvesting, first pick off the outer leaves of the curly kale, leaving a few leaves in the middle to promote its further growth and development.

4. Radicchio

The seeds of the peppery, slightly bitter radicchio can be sown 2-3 weeks before the last frost, and the first little sprouts will appear a week later. It takes about 80-90 days for the plant to develop its hard, crunchy, reddish-purple leaves. Like radishes, it should be harvested young, before its taste becomes too bitter.

If radicchio doesn’t get enough water, it will easily become bitter. Therefore, make sure that its soil is constantly moist. Water regularly and use mulch to prevent rapid evaporation of water.

5. Arugula

Like curly kale, arugula likes cooler weather. Accordingly, it is best to start growing in early spring (or fall). Unlike curly kale, it grows relatively quickly even when sown from seed, so it can also be sown directly outdoors. By the time summer arrives, it produces flowers and then sets seeds, after which its otherwise very tasty and pleasantly pungent leaves quickly become inedible.

Like many other common leafy greens, arugula grows best in partial shade.

Photo: Maja Dumat/Flickr