There are plenty of delicious fast-growing vegetables you can grow in the cooler months of spring and fall. Most of the suggestions on this list are mature in just six weeks.
If you are new to food growing, How to Grow Your First Vegetable Garden (Right Now) walks through everything you need to get started.
Fast Growers for Cooler Weather
If you have been here before you know I love cool weather gardening. Free of the intense heat and humidity of summer, it’s a beautiful time to be outside and the conditions are ideal for many cool-loving veggies.
Spring and fall are the time for growing nutrient-dense, leafy greens, and, if you have never been particularly fond of them, it is time to give them another try. I know we hear this all the time but it’s true: nothing compares to the flavour and juiciness of freshly-picked spinach and leafy greens! That limp, lifeless stuff in the grocery store shouldn’t even be sold as food.
You can start sowing cool-tolerant crops when your garden soil temperature is consistently 50 to 68 °F | 10 to 20° C.
All the veggies on the list (below) have edible stalks and leaves which makes them ready to pick at any point in the growth cycle. The estimated harvest day is simply marks a point where growth may be at a maximum. Plus, many of these varieties are ‘cut and come again’, meaning, you can trim off leaves for your dinner salad, leaving an inch at the base, and new leaves will grow—sometimes several times over. Bonus!
How to Regrow Onions (that sprouted in your kitchen cupboard)
Know Your Hardiness Zone
While this is probably not a concern for short-term veggie crops, if you are a beginner gardener, the first step is to know your gardening zone (for plant hardiness) and learn which plants are best for your growing conditions and climate.
Invasive species (plants and animals) are huge problem these days and it is critical that gardeners are making safe choices that benefit (or do no harm to) the environment.
Find Your Frost Dates & Hardiness Zone
- Plant Hardiness Zones | United States | Canada
These are listed on seed packets and plant tags to guide your choices.
- Average Frost Dates | Use this calculator at Almanac.com. Enter your city and state or province to find your first and last frost dates and number of frost-free days.
Growing zones are usually displayed on plant packages, tags, and seed packets to assist your buying decisions.
From there, refer to your seed packets for specific sowing instructions. Some seeds can be started indoors, others do best directly sown outdoors.
Need Seeds? I’ve got recommendations here.
If you would like to print out the entire list for your garden notebook, you can get it here:
What is an ebook or downloadable file?
- Downloadable files and ebooks are documents (files) you read on your computer, tablet, or mobile phone.
- The files and ebooks offered on this site are in PDF format.
20 Quick-Growing Veggies
Growth rates vary greatly with each variety so check your seed packet for specific info.
The key is warm soil temperatures for optimum seed germination.
For cool-tolerant crops, in general, the seed sowing soil temperature range is 50 to 68 °F | 10 to 20° C.
Covers including cold frames, cloches, polytunnels, or frost cloths will help prevent damage from cold and frost.
- Arugula | Rocket | 20-40 days
- Beets | 40-70 days | tops and roots
- Broccoli Raab/Rapini/Rabi | 40-60 days| leaves and tops are edible
- Endive | 35-50 days
- Kale | 30-65 days | the baby greens are much more tender than mature kale
- Kohlrabi | 40-50 days
- Leaf lettuce | 40-60 days
- Mache/ Corn salad | 45-50 days
- Mesclun Greens | 30-45 days – this is my favorite variety pack and often comes with 6-10 different seed types.
- Mibuna | 21-40 days
- Mizuna | 35-45 days
- Mustard | 21-45 days
- Onion greens | 40-50 days | grow micro-onion greens, baby bulbs, or onion stalks
- Pak Choi | 40-55 days
- Peas | 50-60 days | pea shoots are sweet and delicious!
- Radishes | 21-30 days | Radish tops are mild and add nice flavor to salads
- Spinach | 30-55 days
- Swiss Chard | 30-60 days
- Tatsoi | 21-45 days
- Turnips | 35-50 days | Leaves and root are edible
If you’re looking for easy seed selections, these sets from Botanical Interests have good variety of fast-growers for the cool seasons along with the traditional slower growing varieties.
- Baby Greens Sampler Collection (5 Varieties)
- Basic Bounty Vegetable Collection (7 reliable veggies)
- Container Vegetable Collection (10 selections)
- Chef’s Herb Garden Collection (9 herbs)
Want to find a local seed seller? Use the listings in the links below to find ones in your area.
Seed Sowing Tips
- Order your seeds right away to you have them right when needed. Timing is important.
- Read all of the seed packets for sowing tips.
- In fall, sow at least six weeks before first expected frost.
- In spring, for outdoor sowing, start when the garden soil temperature is favorable (this has more on soil temperatures).
- Cool-tolerant veggie seeds need temperatures of 50 to 68 °F | 10 to 20° C to germinate.
- Note any special sowing instructions (e.g. pea seeds can be pre-soaked in water to encourage germination).
- For continuous harvests, sow the fastest-growing crops every two weeks.
- Keep notes in your garden journal tracking sowing dates, conditions, best/worst crops, recommendations for next time, save seed packets, and take photos.
- If you love cool weather gardening, consider growing your veggies right through the winter.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛