How to Choose Vegetables to Grow


Start your own vegetable garden and enjoy fresh produce throughout the growing season. Choosing the right vegetables for both your needs and your climate is vital for a successful garden. There are cool-season and warm-season vegetables, allowing you to garden from early spring until late fall. For first time gardeners, start with just a few of your favorite plants then gradually add more vegetable varieties each year. This allows you to establish gardening practices that work for you without the danger of becoming overwhelmed.

Step 1

Inspect your garden area and make note of the size of the garden you have available and the amount of sunlight the area receives. Warm-season vegetables require eight hours or more of sunlight while cool-season varieties survive on five to six hours of light.

Step 2

Write a list of your favorite vegetables and of those most used in your household. Grow only those vegetables that you know will be consumed.

Step 3

Research the varieties of each vegetable on your list and find the ones that grow best in your area. Contact local plant nurseries, seed suppliers and your county extension office for variety recommendations.

Step 4

Find the vegetable varieties that fit into your gardening space. Choose dwarf or small vegetable varieties for small gardens or container gardens, and choose larger plants only for large gardening beds.

Step 5

Divide your list of vegetables into cool-season and warm-season types. Spinach, broccoli, peas and lettuce are cool-season vegetables. Tomatoes, peppers, beans and most other vegetables are warm season. Choose a combination of both types of vegetables to extend your garden season throughout the entire season.

Step 6

Mark each vegetable on your list with its intended purpose, whether it is for fresh eating or preserving. Choose vegetable varieties recommended for canning or freezing if you wish to preserve them as these varieties are bred for sturdiness and flavor after the preservation process.

Tips and Warnings

  • Only buy seeds or seedlings that are certified as disease-free. Most hybrid vegetable varieties are bred for disease resistance.

Things You'll Need

  • Pen
  • Paper
  • Seed catalogs


  • Ohio State University Extension: Vegetables
  • University of Illinois Extension: Vegetable Gardening Basics
Keywords: choosing vegetables, planning a garden, vegetable garden plan

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.