7 Easiest Vegetables to Grow in Wisconsin

Vegetables are a joy to grow and harvest. Which ones are the easiest to grow in Wisconsin?

Choosing Wisconsin’s finest vegetables requires knowledge about the state’s hardiness zone for insight into whether they will thrive when planted. 

Most of Wisconsin falls in hardiness zones 3 – 5; it’s a region that has snowy, brutally cold winters and scorching summers.

Knowing which vegetables to choose can be challenging, given Wisconsin’s unique climate. To help you decide, I’ve selected 7 vegetables that grow well in Wisconsin along with recommended planting tips to maximize their growth potential.

1. Cabbage

Growing cabbage is simple in Wisconsin’s climate if you plant them properly. Planting them too early in the spring can kill them, but planting them too late could mean they won’t mature before frigid temperatures set in (cabbages can’t tolerate temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit). 

In Wisconsin, it is generally safe to plant cabbages outdoors two weeks after the area’s last freeze.

It usually takes 60 to 70 days to grow a cabbage inside from seed form. Prepare young cabbage plants for transfer to your outside garden by taking them outside in their pot for an hour each day. 

Extend the time it spends outdoors by an hour each day until it has spent a total of 8 hours outside.

a healthy cabbage grows in the farm

2. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are, without a doubt, the most popular edible backyard plant. 

Tomatoes should be planted in full sun for maximum flowering and tomato production. This means at least 8 hours of sunlight each day.

Tomatoes need more nitrogen than other veggies because of all the fruit production going on inside their leaves. Too much phosphorus can create soft tomatoes or ones with holes.

Many gardeners use companion plants like chives, garlic, basil, marigolds, calendula, and borage when planting tomatoes. Companion plants provide pest and disease control when planted alongside tomatoes. 

a bunch of small tomatoes

3. Squash

Squash is another popular plant in vegetable gardens. This crop is quite simple to cultivate and grows well in Wisconsin. Squash adds depth to dishes and is a low-carb, high-nutrient food. Squash comes in varieties ranging from soft, fast-growing zucchini to sweet and thick butternut squash.

Since squash is a warm-weather plant, you’ll have to wait until the soil temperature reaches at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit before planting it. This will help prevent your seeds from rotting before they sprout. 

Squash thrives in areas exposed to full sun and that have rich, organic, and well-drained soil.

Depending on whether it is a growing bush or a vining species, squash plants may need a lot of space to spread and grow.

a growing squash in the farm

4. Kale

Kale is a surprisingly simple vegetable to grow in Wisconsin. This leafy green plant is packed with nutrients and can endure chilly conditions. Kale is a versatile vegetable that is often used in salads and soups. It can be cultivated in both sunny and shaded settings.

Simply plant kale seeds in well-drained soil in early spring. Thin out the plants so that they are approximately 6 inches apart as they grow. Water kale often to keep the leaves from withering and the soil damp.

Since kale grows quickly, you can anticipate sprouts in 2 – 3 weeks. Separate the leaves from the stalk once the kale is ready for harvest, and then enjoy!

wet green kale plant

5. Radish

Radishes can be grown from seeds in as little as 4 weeks. These little plants are excellent gap fillers for vegetable plots and can be cultivated in the smallest gardens.

Plant your radish seeds in a location that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight every day. Radishes will focus their efforts on growing bigger leaves if they are placed in shadier locations.

Till the ground and remove any pebbles in the soil (compacted soil is not good for root growth). Mix in organic matter with clay soil to help it become looser and enhance drainage.

Although radish seeds can be sown in the spring and fall, avoid sowing once temperatures routinely reach 70 degrees or higher. High temperatures cause radishes to bolt, which renders them practically useless. 

red radish growing in a wet soil

6. Eggplant

Eggplant may look peculiar, but it’s extremely easy to grow. The beautiful thing about growing eggplant is that it’s almost impossible to mess them up. 

Start by planting the seeds in an indoor pot or container in late April or early May. Seedlings can be transferred outside after they are around 6 inches tall. 

Be sure to add compost or manure to the soil before transferring the seedlings to your outside garden since eggplant grows best in organically rich, well-drained soil.

Ensure eggplant seedlings are planted in full sun to grow a larger crop.

a healthy eggplant plant

7. Lettuce

Lettuce is low in calories and high in nutrients, which makes this vegetable a popular choice among health-conscious Wisconsinites. It’s also one of the easiest vegetables to cultivate in the state, even when exposed to winter temperatures and precipitation. 

Lettuce thrives in full sun, meaning it needs at least 6 hours of direct sunlight on most days. It will also grow in partial sun and partial shade in warmer climates.

Lettuce can be harvested year-round. The more you harvest, the more lettuce leaves the plant produces over time. You can enjoy a fresh crop of lettuce by planting them once every 2 weeks.

Alaine Connolly
Alaine has been working way too hard in horticulture since 1992, beautifying golf courses, resorts, and hotels. She is a part time landscape designer who works full time caring for a 28,000 square foot public garden. At home, she maintains her own 400 square feet plot. Alaine lives in northern Illinois - zone 5b.
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