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7 Fast-Growing Vegetables to Start a Victory Garden

In this pandemic, starting a victory garden is all the hype and new gardeners are looking to grow vegetables fast. While some veggies like onions and potatoes take 3 to 4 months to mature, many can be grown in 1 to 2 months. Not including one that can grow in only 1 to 2 weeks! More on this later.

While each has their preference for space, sunlight, and water, most of these vegetables have a few commonalities.

  • All of the plants on this list require the same watering instructions–keep the soil moist, but well-drained. This is to ensure the plant’s roots don’t rot.
  • The time listed is not the time to germinate, but the time to harvest
  • Most leafy greens can benefit from thinning. For example, because bok choi leaves can become pretty bushy, thinning the plant from 10 inches to 8 is considered a good measure.
  • To grow, most seeds require 1/2 inch of depth while replanting roots (like green onions, radishes, or bok choi) could use 1 inch

So, now that we’ve covered that, let’s get into it.

1. Radish

a handful of radishes

I recently started growing radishes. And while I’m still learning about them, I know that they’re an amazingly fast-growing root vegetable that’s perfect on salads.

And speaking of salads, you can use radish greens in place of other leafy greens. Radish greens share the same peppery and spicy notes as the roots and taste great when eaten in the same dish.

Because of their fast-growing nature and tastiness, radishes are one of my top picks for a victory garden.

Here’s what radishes need:

  • Space: 1 to 2 inches apart for salad variety and 4 inches for big radishes. 10 to 16 inches between rows.
  • Time: 3 to 4 weeks
  • Light: Full sun
  • Water: moist, well-drained
  • Regrow: Yes (from the root, or harvest seed when the plant is mature and flowering)

2. Green onion

green onions from my victory garden
My green onions getting adjusted to the summer sun

Like radishes, green onions are a good addition to salads. But their use goes well beyond that. Used in many cuisines from Chinese to Mexican, green onions are a great way to bring a more subtle onion taste to dishes.

I grew up making homemade pico de gallo, and green onions were a central part of the mix. If a family member bought all the salsa ingredients but forgot green onions, it was back to the store for them.

Here’s what green onions need:

  • Space: 1 to 2 inches apart, 12 inches between rows
  • Time: 5 to 6 weeks
  • Light: Full Sun
  • Water: Moist, well-drained
  • Regrow: Yes (from root or seed)

3. Arugula

a pinch of fresh arugula

I know we’re talking about salads a lot here, but come on! This is arugula, the queen of all leafy greens.

My personal favorite, arugula, has a famously not-so-subtle peppery bite. Some aren’t fans of the flavor, but I can’t resist it on my burgers. Even dogs can’t resist them (yes, my dogs ate my arugula. I’m ordering more seeds from Amazon as I write this).

Here’s what arugula needs:

  • Space: 1 inch apart, 10 inches between rows
  • Time: 4 weeks
  • Light: full or part sun
  • Water: moist, well-drained
  • Regrow: Yes (from seed)

4. Spinach

spinach leaves

When you think of a victory garden, you probably think of vegetables. And vegetables are great and all, but where’s all the protein? If you have chickens on your property, then you’ve already answered this part of the equation. But if you haven’t thought about protein yielding veggies, then you might want to start.

It’s no secret spinach is haled as the protein leaf. Made famous from the Popeye Cartoon, 100g of spinach contains 2.9g of protein, compared to only 1.35g from lettuce. That’s more than twice the protein, making spinach a popular choice in many victory gardens.

Here’s what you need to know about spinach:

  • Space: 3 to 5 inches apart, 14 to 18 inches between rows
  • Time: 3 weeks for baby spinach, or add 2 to 3 weeks for mature spinach
  • Light: Full or part sun
  • Water: moist, well-drained
  • Regrow: Yes (from seed)

If you live in a warmer zone, Malabar spinach is a vining leaf that does really well!

5. Bok choi

bok choi at a grocery store

Bok choi is one of those vegetables that you see at Whole Foods, but you have no idea how to cook. At least that’s how I saw it originally.

Nowadays, I add bok choi into a stir fry or soup, but sometimes it can come out bitter. I found that blanching it before cooking can often help remove the bitterness.

Here’s what bok choi needs:

  • Space: 2 inches apart, 10 inches between rows
  • Time: 6 to 7 weeks
  • Light: Part sun
  • Water: moist, well-drained
  • Regrow: Yes (from the root)

6. Kale

kale sold in bags at a farmer's market

I feel like kale gets a bad rep. Often touted the food for hippies, or newly health-conscious moms, kale has a mild, earthy taste. For those who aren’t fans of arugula, kale makes a good substitute. It’s great in a salad (no-surprise there) or even a stir fry.

Fun fact: kale can be regrown from a leaf cutting. I don’t know about you, but I love vegetables that I can regrow and not have to buy seeds constantly.

Here’s what kale needs:

  • Space: 3 inches apart, 18 to 24 inches between rows
  • Time: baby kale will take 3 to 4 weeks, mature kale add 2 to 3 weeks
  • Light: full sun
  • Water: moist, well-drained
  • Regrow: Yes (from cutting)

7. Microgreens

a microgreen setup I had for a small victory garden
This photo is from a few years ago, back when I was doing a test run for microgreens

Last on this list has to be my favorite addition to a victory garden. I started growing microgreens a few years ago and loved how easy and quick they were to grow. I grew them indoors and they required a grow light to be on for 19 hours of the day (my electric bill went up slightly). But they were amazingly tasty and you could get a myriad of flavors from the many varieties out there.

Other fast-growing vegetables you could grow indoors are herbs like cilantro, basil, parsley, and mint.

Here’s what you need to know about microgreens:

  • Space: Minimal (I grew them vertically, in trays)
  • Time: 7 to 14 days
  • Light: Outside: 6 to 10 hours of sun, daily. Inside: 12 to 18 hours (fluorescent or LED)
  • Water: moist, well-drained
  • Regrow: No

If you weren’t a gardener before the pandemic, but you’re now wanting a bit more food security, then victory gardens are the way to go. Whether you’re just starting out, or looking to add some additions to your garden, these 7 fast-growing vegetables will prove themselves each time.

Be sure to do a little planning on how much space and sunlight you have before planting. A quick check can save you a lot of work down the road. If you end up opting for vegetables that take a bit longer, consider growing cover crops in the meantime. Take it one crop at a time, and you’ll have the victory garden of your dreams in no time.