Growing and harvesting one's own vegetables is one of the most satisfying gardening experiences. But even if you don't want to transform a whole section of your landscape into a vegetable garden, you can grow quite a few vegetable types in small sections, in a container, or even interspersed with non-edibles. To learn how to grow the vegetables best suited to your preferences and location, the Better Homes and Gardens Plant Encyclopedia provides key information such as growth characteristics, mature size, and requirements such as sun, shade, and moisture for each vegetable. You'll also discover how different vegetables perform in different climates, and find out how best to integrate vegetables into your landscape. View a list of vegetables by common name or scientific name below.
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Fun fact: they aren't actually roots, they're large, underground stems called tubers.

Jerusalem Artichoke

Surprise! Jerusalem artichoke is neither an artichoke nor from Jerusalem. Instead, it’s a member of the sunflower family that is native to North America. Today Jerusalem artichoke is planted in wildflower meadows, native gardens, and other habitats for birds and pollinators. flock to Jerusalem artichoke seed heads, and butterflies visit this plant’s sunny yellow flowers that bloom for weeks in late summer and fall. As a human, you may want to harvest this plant’s edible tubers shortly after the flowers fade. Mash them like potatoes or grate them raw into salads.

Hot Pepper

There's a huge variety of colors, shapes, flavors, and heat levels to choose from.

Fennel Bulb

Avid cooks will enjoy growing fennel. The bulb, the feathery foliage, and even the seeds are excellent for European-inspired cooking.

The bulb and stems have an anise (licoricelike) flavor that adds interest to raw salads or vegetable appetizers served with a dip. The leaves are also excellent in salads or served snipped atop fish or chicken. And the seed adds a distinct flavor to Southern Italian-inspired red sauces.

Florence fennel, also called bulb fennel, differs from the perennial herb also called fennel in that Florence fennel forms a swollen base at ground level. For best bulb flavor, mound mulch around the base of the plant when bulbs reach 2 inches in diameter.

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Wonderfully versatile eggplant varies greatly from type to type. Depending on the cultivar, their fruits range in size from that of a grape to that of a football. Their fruit comes in white, yellow, red, green, violet, and purple. This wonderfully international vegetable, which originated in India, forms the basis for that country’s baingan bharta, as well as Greek moussaka, French ratatouille, Italian caponata, and a host of soups, pasta dishes, and meatless casseroles.

Whether you plant them in the vegetable garden or perennial garden, give eggplants plenty of space to mature. Plants can grow 2 to 4 feet tall and wide, which means they need to be staked. Eggplants also thrive in heat like their close relatives tomatoes and peppers, so they go outside until after cool spring temperatures pass. Fruit fails to set at temperatures below 65°F.


If you love salads fresh from the garden, grow escarole and endive. They're the basis of some of the most elegant salads.

Endive and escarole are actually different forms of the same plant. Endive produces deeply cut, curled leaves with mild flavor. It is also sometimes called frisee, and is often included in mesclun salad mixes. Escarole has broad, smooth leaves and tends to be more bitter than endive.

Grow either type in cool conditions for mild flavor. They become bitter in hot or dry conditions. Blanching (covering the plant with a pot to exclude sunlight) for two weeks before harvest also minimizes bitterness. By the way, take care not to confuse endive with Belgian endive, which is often cooked.


A staple of bountiful Southern tables, this delightful green is usually "cooked down" with bacon or ham, sometimes by itself and sometimes with an assortment of other greens. It's also great to chop or shred and add to Southern-inspired soups, such as a ham-based or black-eyed pea soup. Plant plenty of collards because even an armload of these greens will cook down to just a few servings.

Collards are closely related to cabbage. Collard stalks and leaves are tough and best eaten cooked. Tear the leaves off the stems and shred them by hand before sauteing them or adding them to soups or stews. For a summer crop, sow seeds four weeks before the last frost date. For a fall crop, sow three months before the first fall frost.