Carrots, peas, beets, leaf lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes and peppers are all vegetables that are easy to grow. Provide basic plant needs such as proper temperatures, sunlight, water, nutrient-rich soil with good drainage and a smart use of planting space.
Vegetable plants need loose, crumbly soil that is rich in nutrients and has good drainage. Raised beds improve drainage, as does amending clay soil with builder's sand and peat moss. Improve soil structure and nutrients by adding compost or organic material. Compost is a nutrient-rich soil amendment that adds humus, balances pH and improves soil structure and texture. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and squash are heavy feeders that require lots of nutrients. Regular applications of compost tea or fish emulsion replenish nutrients that have been used up.
Plant temperature requirements vary among individual vegetables. Lettuce, peas and radishes are cool weather crops that are hardy and frost resistant. Their seeds germinate in cooler temperature soils (40 to 60 degrees F), so they can be planted earlier in the season than their warm weather companions. They are best planted for early spring or fall crops.
Heat-loving, warm-weather crops require warmer soil temperatures (60 to 95 degrees F) for germination and should not be planted until soil is thoroughly warmed. To allow for slightly earlier plantings, cover soil with black plastic one to two weeks before planting warm season crops, such as tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers and squash.
Most vegetable plants require full sun, or eight to 12 hours of unfiltered sunlight per day. Vegetables that require shade are not common, but cool season crops, like lettuce, prefer some shade during the hottest part of the season. When pruning tomatoes or peppers, be sure to leave enough foliage to shade the fruits from direct sun and interplant vegetables that are complementary.
Vegetables require at least 1 inch of water per week--2 or 3 inches where soil is sandy and drains quickly. High winds or a lack of rainfall can contribute to low soil moisture. Water vegetable plants daily after planting until seedlings are well established, with regular watering thereafter to keep soil evenly moist. Beets require evenly moist soil to prevent drying and cracking, and tomatoes require ample amounts of water. Cool-season crops, particularly leafy vegetables, are the most susceptible to low moisture levels and drought conditions.
Vegetables require adequate space to grow in, but gardeners with limited space can still grow plenty of fresh veggies through companion or succession plantings and interplantings. By interplanting slow-maturing crops like peppers with those that mature faster, like radishes, the short season crop will be harvested before the slower crop needs the space. Vegetable companions should have similar growing requirements that complement one another. Tomatoes or squash may provide needed shade for root vegetables such as carrots, radish and lettuce. Succession plantings involve sowing small, successive crops of short season vegetables that grow and mature quickly, such as beets, peas and radish, to extend the growing season and provide larger amounts of produce.