Choosing which crops to grow

The starting point when choosing which plants to grow is with your shopping list.  Which vegetables are you already buying regularly?  These are the ones your family is already eating right?


So, start with a list of what you already go through plenty of.  In our case there were three main types, they were salads, main meal vegetables (Think roast beef dinner), and then there were cooking ingredients and carbs.


For the sake of this article, I am purely looking at our annual vegetable beds.  For perennial vegetables such as asparagus check out our articles on perennial vegetables or the individual vegetables pages.


I knew we needed salad, so some leafy green salad vegetables were a necessity, along with tomatoes, cucumbers etc to make that leaf into a salad on a plate.  For main meal vegetables, we eat a lot of broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, cabbage, sweetcorn, carrots, peas and beans.  Finally, the things we used allot of for either carbs or as cooking ingredients, these were bell peppers, garlic, onion and of course potatoes.

Here’s how my list looked at this point –


Salad greens; mixed lettuce, spinach




Spring onions












Bell peppers



The next list was aimed all at production.  I trawled many pages of my books, and the internet and produced a list of plants that were super productive or just plain easy to grow.  I feel it’s very important when starting out to make sure you have as much success as possible, so even if I had many failures, there were some plants I could bank on giving me results.


The list I suggest of high yield/work/skill ratio looked like this –







Runner beans,

Broad beans,



French beans


As a completist, I had to try all of these from both lists, but I suggest you now merge these two lists (Which may well be different according to your family’s eating habits and your climate and conditions).  Anything that is on both lists is a no-brainer for you to grow.  All the things that are on one list but not the other is a judgement call based on your aversion to failure, and the time you have.


I have had real success every time from everything in the second list; In the south of the UK where I am, these have all consistently given me huge yields compared to the effort involved in growing them.  My success with items not on this list has been variable, although still very worthwhile.  If you are finding a particular type of vegetable from your first list daunting, remember; you don’t need to cultivate from seed every time.  Your success rates will dramatically increase by buying seedlings and transplanting them instead of germinating your own seeds.


The other factor when choosing your vegetables is the amount of space and time you have available.  Once you have planned out your space, you may wish to swap out some of your original choices.  Always remember though that things you know your family readily eat should always take priority.