Top 20 veggies? You might be thinking you’re doing well to grow 5 different kinds (and you are!), but sometimes it’s good to mix things up a bit and try something new. I always recommend starting out slowly when you’re a new vegetable gardener, then adding one or two new ones to try every year. So here are our votes for the top 20 garden vegetables to grow in your garden — and why we recommend them. It all boils down to “healthy and delicious,” but you decide for yourself!
- Greens: This is a wide group of veggies including mustard greens, collard greens, and turnip greens. These easy-to-grow greens are loaded with Vitamins K, A, and C, manganese, fiber, and calcium, as well as a host of other vitamins and minerals. They’re best steamed but beware of over-cooking them, as they’ll release an unpleasant sulfur smell.
- Lettuce: Lettuce is very low-calorie while providing a ton of valuable nutrients including Vitamins A, K, and C, B-carotene, folate, iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Grow butterhead, Romaine, Chinese, and loose-leaf types like red and green leaf lettuces.
- Spinach: High in Vitamins A, C, E, and K, protein, thiamin, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese. I love throwing them into smoothies for a green kick and adding them into my salads with sliced mushrooms and tomatoes.
- Kale: Long hailed as a superfood, kale is high in fiber, an array of Vitamins A, C, and K, folate, calcium, antioxidants, and iron. Juice with it or toss a handful into your smoothie, make salads or sautee as a side.
- Swiss Chard: Swiss chard is every bit as beautiful as it is healthy, and I do love it when plants serve a dual purpose. Their bright yellow, orange, and red stalks are topped with leafy growth that is an excellent source of Vitamins A, K, and C, dietary fiber, iron, potassium, and magnesium.
- Cabbage: Ideal for soups, salads, snacking, salads, slaws, and stir-fries, cabbage earns its keep in both the garden and the kitchen. And it’s so good for you that you will want to dedicate a spot in your yard to grow your own cabbage patch. Cabbage is packed with Vitamins C, K, B2, B6, fiber, manganese, folate, copper, choline, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, selenium, iron, protein, and niacin.
- Potatoes: I was surprised to learn that potatoes are the #1 vegetable crop in the world, but I shouldn’t have been, considering the wide variety of ways you can use them and how nutritious they are. Potatoes are a good source of Vitamins B6 and C, potassium, copper, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, phytonutrients, and dietary fiber. Bake, boil, or roast them, and to enjoy the potato’s health benefits, avoid frying them or loading up with cheese, butter, and bacon bits.
- Radishes: I think radishes get very overlooked in the health department. These tiny root vegetables pack great amounts of copper, Vitamin B6, magnesium, manganese, calcium, and fiber. Add them to a salad or pair them with hummus for a nutritious snack.
- Carrots: Who doesn’t love carrots? Salads, soups, stews, and juices all benefit from this tasty and healthy root vegetable. They are mostly high in fiber and beta-carotene, but are also a good source of antioxidants, Vitamins A, C, K, and B6, as well as folate, iron, copper, and manganese.
- Beets: This brightly colored root veggie is a favorite for pickling, juicing, and roasting, and it offers up some amazing nutrients like folate, Vitamin B6, and manganese, as well as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Garlic: Although it’s hardly ever eaten on its own, garlic qualifies as a root vegetable rather than a spice or an herb. Probably our most popular flavoring for nearly any dish, garlic packs a punch with Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, folate, Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, and zinc. All that in a tiny bulb!
Best Vegetables to Grow in Your Garden
In this video, Birjette, a local organic seed grower from San Diego Seed Company shows us some of her favorite vegetables to plant and grow in the garden.
VEGETABLES THAT ARE FRUIT
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes are undoubtedly America’s favorite veggie to grow. (Well, it’s actually a fruit, but we won’t split hairs today.) Aside from all the tasty things you can do with tomatoes — salads, juicing, preserving, sauces, condiments — they are packed with nutrition including Vitamins A, C, K, and B6, folate, and potassium.
- Zucchini: Another super easy veggie to grow, zucchini contains Vitamins A, B1, B6, and B2, magnesium, folate, potassium, copper, calcium, and phosphorus. Oh, and zinc, niacin, and protein. Use zucchini in soups and stews, sautéed as a side, in baked goods, and as a lower carb banana substitute in smoothies.
- Beans: Incredible sources of protein, beans are also high in complex carbs, fiber, antioxidants, copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, and zinc. Try growing snap beans, lima beans, navy beans, and black-eyed peas.
- Peppers: Growing any kind of pepper is fun (hello, salsa!) but if you really want to dial into health, go for the bell peppers, with the darker red varieties being the most nutritious. They are excellent sources of Vitamins A, C, B6, B2, and E, as well as dietary fiber, folate, niacin, and potassium. Eat them raw with hummus, incorporate them into your favorite salsa recipe, or throw them into stir-fries.
- Pumpkins: I ask you, is there anything more fun than growing pumpkins? They’re not only delicious for baking, but fun to use in seasonal décor, both in the home and in the garden. Pumpkins are high in fiber, potassium, and Vitamin C as well as antioxidants.
- Okra: We don’t often think of okra has a health food, but it’s surprisingly high in Vitamins B and C, potassium, folic acid, calcium, and dietary fiber. New research shows that it can help manage blood sugar in people with diabetes. Who knew? Use it in gumbo, soups, and stews.
- Broccoli: Raw or cooked, broccoli is an indispensable veggie in salads, stir-fries, side dishes, and raw food snacking. And it’s high in nearly everything a veggie can be high in — Vitamins A, E, B1, and B6, potassium, copper, calcium, niacin, iron, protein, dietary fiber, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, manganese, and choline.
- Cauliflower: If broccoli is the King of Cruciferous Veggies, cauliflower is the Queen. High in Vitamins C, K, and B6, as well as phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, fiber, potassium, folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, and protein (whew!), cauliflower is definitely a worthy addition to the veggie garden.
- Brussels Sprouts: Now while Brussels sprouts often don’t top the favorite foods list for many people, they are actually delicious and good for you. Looking to increase your Vitamins C, K, B1, and B6? How about folate, copper, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, fiber, choline, and omega-3 fatty acids? Brussels sprouts are your man, er, veggie!