One of the frustrating things about gardening is waiting to eat the fruits of your labors. Children, especially, may become impatient with the slow progress of the seeds they've planted. Choosing varieties that mature quickly limits this frustration. Plant fast-growing vegetables and you can be enjoying your first harvest in a few weeks or a couple of months. Weather and temperature affect how quickly vegetables will mature. Cool weather and lots of rain can slow development, while warm days and lots of sun will speed up the process.
Radishes win the race in any vegetable growing contest. Radishes mature as quickly as 21 days from the time you plant the seed. Plant radish seeds as soon as all danger of frost has passed, scattering the tiny seeds and covering them with 1/4 inch of soil. Water well. When the radishes begin to sprout, pull up some of the tiny plants, leaving the rest about 4 inches apart to allow room for the radishes to develop. The radishes are ready when the shoulders of the plant begin to show above the ground. If you're unsure, you can probe around the plant with your finger to make sure it's developed enough. If so, pull it out of the ground. If you want a bigger radish, leave the plant alone but don't wait too long. Oversized radishes can be bitter and woody.
Lettuce matures in 50 to 60 days, but lettuce qualifies as a fast crop because you can eat the baby plants almost as soon as they develop leaves, while leaving other plants to grow larger. Lettuce seeds are tiny, so scatter them over damp soil and tamp them down. You can sprinkle another handful of soil over the seeds. Water with a sprinkler can to avoid disturbing the seeds. When plants are about 3 inches high, remove some of them, leaving the remaining plants about 6 inches apart. Pinch the roots from the plants you removed and eat the tender, tiny leaves in a salad of baby greens. As lettuce matures, you can continue to remove and eat any plants that seem to be crowding others. Lettuce prefers cooler weather, so plant as early in the spring as the soil can be worked.
Bush-variety green beans are fun for children to plant because they can watch the development of the plants daily. Green beans sprout quickly, often only in two to three days in warm weather. They will produce beans in about two months. Once the plants blossom, the beans develop quickly. You could be eating fresh green beans in as little as five days after the blossoms appear. Plant each seed about 1 inch deep after the soil has warmed. Plant 4 to 6 inches apart. Once plants emerge, remove extra plants so that the remaining plants are about 8 inches apart.
Like beans, squash sprouts quickly in warm weather and the plants develop rapidly. Squash is ready to eat as soon as three our four days after blossoms wilt. You can also eat the squash blossoms, pulling them off the plant, dipping them in egg batter and frying in oil. You can also stuff them with cheese before battering and frying. Summer squash such as zucchini averages xx days to maturity. Plant seeds one inch deep, two to three seeds per mound, three to four feet apart. When the plants are about three inches tall remove all but the most vigorous plant from the mound. Summer squash mature in about 60 days. Pick the squash when they're three or four inches long.