Best and easiest vegetables to grow in Oklahoma

A tomato (left) and Black Seeded Simpson lettuce growing in the potager.
A tomato (left) and Black Seeded Simpson lettuce growing in the potager (kitchen garden.)

On my stats page, I’ve noticed I’m getting a lot of searches for which vegetables grow best in Oklahoma.  First let me say, growing anything in Oklahoma is a dare.  You never know if spring will suddenly end, and 108F weather will linger for days; or, whether a hail storm or a tornado will foul things up.  Oh, and God bless the freakin’ deer, raccoons, rabbits and squirrels.  What they don’t eat, they dig up and tear apart.

Whew!  Now, with those caveats, the following are my best picks for the easiest vegetables to grow in Oklahoma.

  • Lettuce. Get it in early enough (plant seeds outdoors at the end of February), and you will have success.  Spinach isn’t always so accommodating.  Lettuce grows very well in containers, so if you have even a small balcony, you can also have fresh salads.  The leaf, bibb and romaine types are the easiest in that order.  Black Seeded Simpson is a classic.
  • Kale and Chard. Plant seeds the same time as lettuce.  One word:  easy.

    Red chard is beautiful, tasty and good for you.
    Red chard is beautiful, tasty and really good for you.
  • Green or Spring onions. Plant onion sets (those little bulbs you see at the nursery) at the same time you plant your lettuce.  Again, simple and easy.
  • Snow peas and peas with edible pods.  Both of these types of peas are easily grown in Oklahoma.  Shelling peas are a bit harder because our spring can suddenly quit before the pods are fully filled out.
  • Most herbs love containers, so they are another good deck or balcony choice.  I usually buy one or two basil plants to get a head start and then plant seeds.  There are many, different types of basil.  Get the one you want for the type of cooking you like.  I’m especially fond of Genovese and Thai basil, but  I grow many others.  All are good.  Parsley, both curly and flat, is easy.  So are the many thymes.  The only one I’ve ever had trouble with is fuzzy thyme.  It wouldn’t grow for me.  Sage is easily grown and is perennial.  I found oregano to be invasive in my garden, so I would only grow it in a container.  All the mints are bad boys who want to take over, so again, use containers.  I especially like spearmint and chocolate mint.  Rosemary is a tender perennial here.  Sometimes it overwinters and sometimes not.  It is lovely in roasted chicken.  So is sage.

    Culinary sage is pretty in the garden.
    Culinary sage is pretty in the garden.
  • Summer squash.  What would summer in Oklahoma be without summer squash sauteed, wok fried, or fried like my Grandma Nita used to do?  Our family loves zucchini, yellow crookneck and straight neck and spaghetti squash.  I’m trying a couple of other varieties this year too.  We’ll see how they perform in my sunny potager.  Just remember to pick them small.  No one likes baseball-bat-sized zucchini.
  • Tomatoes.  Set out plants well after the last frost date (approx. April 20).  If you’re an inexperienced gardener, stick with those which have symbols for built-in disease resistance.  This will often be listed on the tag as a group of letters.  You’ll just save yourself a lot of time and agony.  Heirlooms do taste wonderful, but so does almost any homegrown tomato compared to that in the store.  I find heirlooms are often harder to grow with the exception of Cherokee Purple and Arkansas Traveler.  They generally perform well here.  My other picks are:  Super Fantastic, Park’s Whopper, Rutgers (often listed as an heirloom, but it was developed at Rutgers University, so I don’t know), Beefsteak and Supersteak for my slicers; Roma and Roma II are okay for a paste tomato; Celebrity is early, but not a fave of mine.  For cherry tomatoes, Supersweet 100, Sungold (the best yellow ever; wish I could find it), Yellow Pear, Chocolate Cherry and Sweet Million.  Cherry tomatoes are generally easy and adapt well to container gardening.
  • Beans, especially green beans are oh-so-easy.  The easiest for me are the bush beans like Contender and the regular Blue Lake.  I found the improved Blue Lakes had less vigor.  I don’t know why.  Sometimes you can’t improve on a good thing.
  • Melons like cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon are simple fruits to grow in our heat.  Their blooms are also beloved by pollinators. Our favorite cantaloupe is Ambrosia.  I like Moon and Stars watermelon, but I’m trying a couple of other varieties this year.
  • Pumpkins and other winter squash are pretty simple to grow too.  They require a long warm season to develop, so read the package to make sure you get your squash planted at just the right moment.  You don’t want the pumpkins to ripen before Halloween.
  • Potatoes, most any kind do well if you plant them by St. Patrick’s Day, easy to remember because he’s one of the patron saints of Ireland.  I like new, red potatoes so that’s the type I grow.  I always eat them before they get to full size.  I must have something with my green beans.

    Best and easiest vegetables to grow in Oklahoma.
    Potatoes and asparagus. No, you’re not supposed to grow them together. Long story.
  • Okra, a relative of hibiscus, which adores our weather, needs its space, but it is also easy to grow.  Just remember to pick it daily once it starts forming pods.  Large pods are tough customers no one wants to eat.
  • Corn is wonderful if you can keep it from the raccoons.  I especially love the variety Bodacious.
  • Strawberries.  Takes about three years before you get a decent berry crop.  You’re supposed to pinch off the blossoms the first summer, and yes, I know it’s hard, but your berries will produce better in the following year.

That’s all I can think of for now.  This year, try growing some of your own veggies, you’ll be amazed at the taste.  Just start with a small raised garden.  I saw a couple of kits at Lowe’s this week.  Put down some black landscape cloth, buy decent soil, and plant a few seeds or plants.  Then, just water and wait.  You’ll thank me in a month or two.  Oh, and be sure to plant a few flowers for the pollinators.  The flowers are pretty and lure them in next to your veggies.


  1. Kelly says:

    I was so happy to happen upon your information. I moved here from New York and am really struggling to understand how gardening “works” here. I’ve read quite a bit from the Cooperative Extensions but I can’t figure out how to reconcile planting everything in full sun (as is recommended)and surviving the summer heat (which seems to want to kill all my plants) even with close monitoring of my watering and a good layer of mulch. It’s good to know which plants to start with so I at least start off on the right foot!

  2. mary says:

    Dee, you are my inspiration!! I don’t know how you do it. My vegetable garden is always pitiful. I hope to improve when I retire. It always seems that my school responsibilities increase in the spring at just about the time that I should be starting seeds for the garden. I usually end up buying plants. You forgot the WIND! I did start some tomatoes this year and managed to get them out to the garden and forgot to protect them and of course the wind tore them to shreds. A gust also toppled our apple tree! One step forward, two steps back. Thank the Lord for flowers. 🙂 And produce markets.
    .-= mary´s last blog ..Three Birthdays =-.

    Mary, I’m so sorry about the wind. Yes, especially on the plains the wind is awful. We’ve had quite a bit of wind ourselves this year, and I live surrounded by trees.~~Dee

  3. Jeana says:

    Thanks for all the great information about gardening in Oklahoma. I was raised on a farm and never thought I would ever garden after moving away from home but now I can’t ever imagine not having a vegetable garden.
    I planted Sungold tomatoes this year and now after reading your opinion on them I really can’t wait to try some. I grew some Black Cherry last year and they were wonderful.

    Hi Jeana, thank you so much for visiting. It’s funny what we miss when we move from home isn’t it? I missed those times we visited my grandmother’s house, and she made the most wonderful food, a table literally groaning under all the vegetables. I also miss my mother’s fried ribs and the catfish. Perhaps, one day, when I’m feeling thin, I’ll make some. 🙂 ~~Dee

  4. Janell West says:

    What wonderful information. There’s no substitute for experience.

    Someday Dee, you’re going to write a best-selling book on practical ‘down-to-earth’ gardening. Begin thinking of a title.
    .-= Janell West´s last blog ..Making All Things New =-.

    Hi Janell, I hope to write a book someday. I think I could help people garden in our part of the universe, but then again, I help them here in the blog too, so whatever God wills.~~Dee

  5. joey says:

    Lots of good stuff here … both edible and advice! I would think herbs might love Oklahoma!
    .-= joey´s last blog ..WORDLESS WEDNESDAY ~ ‘THE HEART OF A GARDENER’ =-.

    Thank Joey. Yes, herbs are very easy to grow here. Basil bolts too fast, but that’s okay. You can always plant more seed or keep pinching off the blossoms.~~Dee

  6. LOVE trying to keep up with you Wonder Woman.



    Ha! You’re the one traveling all over the U.S. promoting your book. I’m just here keeping the home fires burning. 🙂 ~~Dee

  7. I’ve never eaten it, but I love that red chard; it is so vibrant! It’s turning hot here, 90 today, so it’ll be moving on up the road toward you soon; spring will be over and we’ll be smack dab in the middle of summer.
    .-= Nola at Alamo North´s last blog ..Still In The Garden, Waiting =-.

    Nola, it tastes good, and it is so pretty.~~Dee

  8. Karla Neese says:

    I’ve not planted anything this year. Part of it has been procrastination. Part of it is fear because the nice raised beds we created last spring have been used by the neighborhood stray cats as 2 giant litter boxes all winter and even now. I don’t know how to keep them out. I also have seen stuff online that you can’t use the soil/beds due to potential illness. I’m at a loss as to what to do at this point. Any suggestions?

    Karla, I’m sorry to hear the cats are driving you nuts. When you’re feeling extra strong, I would remove the top layer of soil from the beds. Then, I would replace it with fresh soil, sprinkle a lot of hot pepper in and around your plants. Before winter fully sets in, I would also cover the beds to keep the cats out for next year. I would plant, but I would also wear gloves even though I’d removed the soil.~~Dee

  9. First of all, your red chard is beautiful! Secondly, how do you put the plant names on the old spoon? That is awesome. Durable I’m sure and too cute! Please do tell. I did a few searches in your blog for “label” and for “spoon” but didn’t see them in the results.
    .-= Gardener on Sherlock Street´s last blog ..Picnic Table Part 5 =-.

    I wish I could claim making those, but alas, I cannot. I bought mine locally at an antique store, but you can find lots of them on Just search antique spoon plant markers.~~Dee

  10. Jean says:

    Great advice, especially about the pollinators. I’m very jealous about your comment about kale and chard – “easy”. Well I planted a bunch of seedlings of each and between the birds and squirrels digging in my beds, I ended up with only two of each! And I so love those veggies. Re: fuzzy thyme, I have some in a part of my raised bed where the sprinkler doesn’t hit. It’s grown fairly big. It must like it really dry.

    Hi Jean, I don’t start the chard or the kale. I just put seeds in the ground. Yes, sometimes the blasted squirrels, birds and other wildlife make gardening very hard don’t they? I just can’t grow that fuzzy time. Perhaps I do water too much.~~Dee

  11. Dave says:

    Sounds like many of the same things that grow well here in Tennessee! I’m with you on the oregano – I have plenty, and I’ll have plenty more soon. It doesn’t stop.

    We’re doing fine here but others haven’t been so lucky in TN. The waters are receding though and sunny skies make things seem much better.
    .-= Dave´s last blog ..The Tennessee Flood of 2010 Part 1 =-.

    Dave, thank you for the update. I’m concerned for all my TN friends. That was a terrible flood.~~Dee

  12. Climate differences: I can barely keep oregano going from one year to the next.
    .-= Kathy from Cold Climate Gardening´s last blog ..Cold Climate Gardening Nominated for Best Rural/Farming Blog =-.

    Yes, climate makes all the difference.~~Dee

  13. Lynn says:

    Thank you for the much needed info. I am a new gardener and love reading your blog. For some reason all the seedlings I started in organic jiffy mix with peat pots back in March did not grow very well, mostly tomatoes and peppers. I have since transplanted them(about a week ago). Only standing about 2 to 3 inches tall, I am wondering if I should buy plants from the store. P.S. My sister planted hers in peat pellets and they have grown so much better.

    Hi Lynn, your comment made my day. I started this blog to help people. I’m glad I helped you. As to your plants, once they are outside, with water and good soil, they will catch up eventually, but it can’t hurt to buy a few plants to hedge your bets. Peat pellets warm up faster, and that’s why your sisters’ plants have grown taller in a shorter amount of time. They also may have fertilizer in them. I’m not sure. HTH.~~Dee

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