Beginning Gardener Series : Vegetable Tiers

gr just grow it organic gardening vegetables


When it comes to getting started gardening, I know that it can be overwhelming and intimidating.  Some people want to jump straight into the deep end and start trying to grow tomatoes or watermelons because they are their favorite crops or because they hear so many gardeners talking about these crops. 

If you are a beginning gardener, I do not recommend jumping in the deep end.  I recommend starting at the shallow end. The Tier one vegetables and herbs on this list and over the seasons progressing to the deep end or tier three.  If you jump in attempting to grow the hardest vegetables for the first time and something goes wrong, you may become discouraged and stop gardening.  That is not what we want, every season success and failures should build upon the previous seasons.  This way, you do not become discouraged from gardening.  I believe everyone should garden, check out the health benefits of gardening here.  

This list does not include every vegetable or herb, but it does give you a starting point. Before beginning, you need to understand a few things: seasons, suns, soil, and drainage.


Tier 1- These are vegetables that require minimal fertilizer or space. These are plants that can be directly sown into the garden.

·       Herbs

·       Chives- Heavy producer with minimal input

·       Lettuce and leafy greens-kale, mustards, collards, and chard.  I would not include spinach in this list.  Spinach is tricky to germinate from direct sowing.

·       Beans- pole produces longer but needs a trellis or structure to attach onto. Bush beans tend to sprawl onto the ground and are not as productive.

·       Peas- with the right climate and a trellis. It’s a done deal. Don’t forget to pick constantly

·       Radishes- can sprinkle on soil and they will grow. Now the trick is getting big beautiful round radishes. Remember harvest dates, or they will split in the ground

·       Onions-  When planted from bulbs

Tier 2- These grow well don’t need much more than fertile soil sun and water. The reason they are in this category is that you will need to learn about pest management and fungus.  They will require more fertilizer and attention than vegetables within Tier 1

·       Cucumber

·       Squash

·       Broccoli

·       Carrots- the tricky part is germination and spacing. After that, they are low maintenance

·       Beets- tricky to get big beets like you see at the grocery store but easy to grow not many pests. Really could be in tier 1.

Tier 3- Big fruiting vegetables. These are more difficult because they require more space and have more pests and diseases that can destroy your garden before it has a chance to flourish. Will need even more fertilizer than Tier 2 and a lot more time and attention. 

·       Tomatoes

·       Pumpkins

·       Watermelons

·       Brussels sprouts - depend so much on temperature

·       Cauliflower- I find it to be the hardest of all the Cole crops to grow.

·       Tomatillos

·       Peppers

   Perennials-  are a different story I would put them between tier 1 and 2. They require an understanding of soil pH, proper planting depth, and growing conditions.  Give the perennials time to become established, but once they do, you just need to water and compost, and you will be rewarded during the specific harvest seasons.  During the dormant season, you will need to make sure the bed stays mulched and weeded.  You don’t want the perennials having to compete for nutrients with grasses and weeds.

·       Artichoke

·       Asparagus

·       Rhubarb

·       Horseradish

·       Blueberries/raspberries/blackberries

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