10 Easy Vegetables To Grow In A Greenhouse

easy veg to grow in a greenhouse

For me (and most growers I expect) the thrill of a greenhouse is being able to grow vegetables which wouldn’t normally survive in my climate. Once I mastered tomatoes and cucumbers, I couldn’t wait to experiment with more exotic harvests, and it’s certainly been a lot of fun. But over the seasons, I’ve realised that easy greenhouse crops aren’t just a smart place to start. If you’ve booked a long summer vacation, or you’ve got big commitments in other areas of your life this year, then choosing easy vegetables to grow in a greenhouse frees you up to enjoy those things, and still enjoy some exotic harvests. So whether you’re a novice or an experienced gardener, here are 10 easy greenhouse crops to grow this year.


Why choose easy veg to grow in a greenhouse?

When I inherited my greenhouse (it was already in the yard when we bought our house) I had big ambitions. Obviously I’d start with tomatoes, but surely once I had a little experience I’d be filling the space every year with a jungle of eggplants and other exotic crops. And some years, that’s exactly what I do do. But not always, because I’ve learned that easy crops are not just for beginners. Some good reasons to choose undemanding vegetable harvests are:

  • It’s your first greenhouse growing season. It’s not the only reason, but it’s still a good one! Starting with undemanding crops is a pragmatic choice if this is your first time using a greenhouse. Growing under glass means learning some new techniques for watering, ventilating, and adding shade in the height of summer. It’s often best to save fussy crops for when those new routines have all become second nature.
  • You’ve got summer vacation plans. It’s much easier to find a neighbor willing to water an easy crop once a day while you’re gone, than one willing to water, mist, feed, ventilate and prune a more high maintenance crop.
  • Your crop isn’t your only big project. This year I’ve also promised to help raise ornamental flower seedlings for a community garden project. I know it’s going to be a big commitment, and I won’t have as much time as usual for my greenhouse. Maybe you’ve got a renovation project planned, or young kids who’ll be home from school all summer. Easy crops mean you don’t have to abandon your greenhouse altogether this year.
  • Growing veg isn’t really your thing. Maybe, like me, you inherited your greenhouse. Growing veg inside it should be fun! There are no medals for growing difficult crops. Wanting maximum yields for minimum effort is a perfectly valid approach. Easy veg will give you the satisfaction of using your space, without making a level of commitment you’ll come to resent.

10 easy veg to grow in a greenhouse

Most of us have an idea of what we expect to find growing in a greenhouse. But sometimes the non-traditional greenhouse crops are the easiest to grow in there. There are also easy crops for every single month of the year. Here are 10 of the best.

easy veg to grow in a greenhouse

1. Bush beans

Bush beans are a perfect example of a veg that isn’t traditionally grown under glass. But hear me out, because I think they’re a fantastic way to use your greenhouse in spring, and make the most out of it before the more typical produce move in. When you use your greenhouse during the cooler months of the year you also don’t need to water the plants as much, or worry about shading them from the sun.

Bush beans can be planted into pots or directly into the soil as soon as the temperature in your greenhouse reaches 60°F. Depending on your region, this can be as early as February. Since bush beans usually only produce one flush of beans 7 or 8 weeks after planting and then die back, the space they occupied will be vacant again by the time your summer crops need it.

Easy varieties to try:

  • Dwarf Velour
  • Mascotte
  • Golden Rocky
  • Cupidon

2. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are the quintessential greenhouse crop. Toms grown under glass generally start producing fruit sooner, and yield bigger fruits, than tomatoes grown outside. You can start tomatoes from seed on a sunny windowsill, but they will need gradually acclimatizing to your greenhouse over a period of several days before you move them out there permanently. It’s easier to buy young plants from a nursery that can be planted straight into your greenhouse. Look for bushy varieties with small fruits, which won’t need pruning or tying to supports. Tomatoes have a reputation for being complicated to grow, but really it’s just a case of remembering the right steps in the right order. We’ve got a complete guide to getting started with them here.

Easy varieties to try:

  • Honeybee
  • Supremo
  • Tumbler

3. Cucumbers

Cucumbers are my personal favorite greenhouse veg. They grow quickly, which means you can get away with sowing the seeds straight into pots or growbags in the greenhouse, once all risk of frost has passed. They’ll need something to grow up, and regular watering. But once you’ve tried your first home grown cucumber, you’ll want to grow them again every year forever! I love growing picnic varieties that you harvest at just 4-6” long.

Easy varieties to try:

  • Diva
  • Marketmore
  • Sweet Success
  • Wisconsin

4. Bell peppers

Bell peppers are another popular traditional greenhouse crop. They’re generally less quick to wilt in dry conditions than cucumbers or tomatoes, and they’re less likely to stop fruiting altogether if you have a heatwave. But they do have a long growing season, which means you’ll either need to sow them indoors under a grow lamp in January or February, or buy nursery-reared plants in spring. For even easier crops next year, try bringing one or two of your pepper plants indoors overwinter. Even though a lot of people treat them as annuals, bell peppers are actually a perennial plant. As long as you protect them from frost, they will produce more fruit next year!

Easy varieties to try:

  • Baby Belle
  • Dragonfly
  • Jupiter
  • Orange Blaze
  • Sunbright

5. Chillies

Chillies are compact, drought tolerant, and productive crops. Even if you haven’t got the time, inclination or confidence to cultivate anything else in your greenhouse this year, try growing a pot of chillies. Make it as easy as possible by buying a young plant from a nursery after your last frost date, and planting it in a self-watering pot. Then just wait!

Easy varieties to try:

  • Anaheim
  • Caballero
  • Jalapeno
  • Tibetan Lhasa
  • Red Savina Habanero (warning: super hot!)

6. Cucamelons

Also known as sour Mexican gherkins, cucamelons taste like a cross between a cucumber, a melon, and a lime. But of the three, they are actually most closely related to cucumbers. In a greenhouse they grow on sprawling vines which produce dozens upon dozens of large-olive sized fruits. They’re a great last minute addition to an empty space, or allowed to grow up among other greenhouse veg. They’re so easy to grow that I usually resort to cutting away stems before I end up overwhelmed by fruits! Serve them in salads, as canapes, or turn them into tasty pickles and chutneys.

7. Okra

Okra, also known as gumbo, is a classic ingredient in jambalaya and curries. It’s geographical origins are disputed, but the candidate regions are Africa, or south Asia. So it likes warm conditions! They’re a great choice if you’ve inherited a greenhouse, but you’re not a big fan of the traditional salad veg. Okra’s only special request is that it likes high humidity. They tend to produce lots of flowers but little fruit when humidity is low. To keep them happy, empty a watering can of water onto the floor of your greenhouse first thing every morning (this is also good for stopping cucumbers and tomatoes from getting too hot, and deterring spider mites).

Easy varieties to try:

  • Blondy
  • Clemson Spineless
  • Red burgundy

8. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes don’t grow like regular potatoes at all. They are actually the tuber which forms at the base of a long vine-like plant similar to morning glory. This makes them much easier to grow than regular potatoes, because they don’t need earthing up. They’re much, much easier to harvest too – no back breaking digging required here! Since they like warm conditions – between 70 and 80°F – they are ideal for growing in greenhouses.

Easy varieties to try:

  • Beauregard
  • Centennial
  • Covington
  • Georgia Jets
  • Murasaki

9. Carrots

Carrots are certainly not a typical greenhouse crop, and you can’t grow them under glass all year round. If you start carrots in a greenhouse in midsummer they will get too hot and bolt (start producing flowerheads and divert their energy into seed production rather than big roots). But once the temperatures inside your greenhouse have dropped back below 70°F in fall, growing container crops of baby carrots is a great way to extend your carrot harvesting season, and make the most out of your greenhouse after all the traditional crops have ended. It’s also one of the easiest ways of growing carrots, because you won’t have to worry about carrot fly so late in the year. Try pulling your greenhouse carrots after 40 days, for baby roots that look fancy (and taste delicious) in salads and stir fries.

Easy varieties to try:

  • Dragon Purple
  • Little Finger
  • Nantes Half Length
  • Solar Yellow

10. Salad leaves

And finally, salad leaves are a fantastic way to make your greenhouse productive all through the winter, and not just the summer months. Like carrots, salad leaves will bolt if you grow them under glass in the height of summer, but in winter, the protection of a greenhouse improves germination rates, helps your leaves grow quickly, and stops them being damaged by wind and rain. I grow winter salad crops in an old sand and water table my daughter used to play with. I sow a mix of seeds from the list below in a grid, so they’re all about an inch apart. As they grow, first we take the thinnings and eat them in sandwiches, then we start harvesting mature leaves from the remaining plants for tasty salads.

Easy varieties to try:

  • Arugula
  • Komatsuma
  • Mitzuma
  • Mustard ‘Red Lace’
  • Mustard ‘Green Fire’

Why not eggplant?

Did you spot the absence of eggplant on my list? They’re a popular greenhouse crop, and one that lots of growers are keen to try. But, I would argue that they are not an easy veg to grow in a greenhouse. First of all they have a long growing season. Which means that in most regions you need to start the seed indoors in January or February. To overcome the low levels of natural light at that time of year, the seedlings usually need a grow light, or they will get leggy (grow long, weak stems, with few leaves).

Once in your greenhouse, they need regular food and water, and their leaves need frequent misting. Some varieties have sharp spines on their stems, which seem to me like the icing on on a very tricky cake. This veg has the potential to be satisfying and delicious, but it will make you work hard to earn your reward!

Easy greenhouse crops – summary

There are at least 70 easily recognizable edible crops that can be grown under glass. Our perception of which is easiest is sometimes influenced by how desirable we find the outcome. Cucumbers are my favorite traditional greenhouse harvest, and I think they give lots back for minimal effort. But my father-in-law who doesn’t like them insists that they’re the most insufferable divas of the plant world too!

And as you can see, sometimes finding the easiest crops to grow also means thinking outside the box about what you expect to see in a greenhouse in the first place. I think the easiest veg of all are the ones which grow in the cooler months, when they don’t need daily watering and temperature checks. Like pots of left over carrot seed in fall, and trays of peppery salad leaves in winter. Let us know which easy crops you’re going to try using the comments box down below!

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