24 Best Crops to Grow in 2024: Fruits, Veggies & Herbs

Find the Inspiration You Need to Get Your 2024 Garden Off to a Good Start

by Lisa Munniksma

What crops to grow tops many farmer’s and backyard gardener’s lists. Here’s our list of the 24 best crops to grow for fruits, vegetables and herbs. This is not a “sexiest crops of 2024” list. This list is more about reliability than it is about trends. They have been tested in an area that typically sees six frost-free months in zone 6b. From this list, you may find the inspiration you need to get your 2024 garden off to a good start.

Carmen Peppers

1. Carmen Peppers

I don’t prefer peppers, but I found one variety that I savor: the sweet Italian Carmen frying peppers. I could have left this vegetable-diary entry at “sweet Italian peppers,” but I’ve tried a few varieties and find Carmens are the most suited for my garden and my taste.

I also prefer the red over the yellow, but that might be about looks more than flavor.

Garden Huckleberries

2. Garden Huckleberries

Don’t confuse garden huckleberries — nightshades, growing in clusters on long, upright stalks —with wild huckleberries. Green, unripe garden huckleberries are toxic when ingested in quantity; ripe but raw, they’re mildly acerbic; but cook them down with sugar, and they make an unforgettable ultraviolet-colored freezer jam that tastes like a grape-blueberry combination.

3. Borage

Borage is a great medicinal herb. The blue flowers make yummy cucumber-flavored additions to salads, and bumblebees flock to the blooms. Borage can grow quite tall, and it’ll reseed next season. I appreciate that borage can withstand some frost, keeping color in the garden a little longer.

4. Thornless Blackberries

Friends gave me a few thornless blackberry canes when I moved to this farm, and they weren’t sure of the variety. I wish I knew.

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Each year, I harvest gallons of blackberries through the entire month of July from a 15-foot row. Besides pruning them back in the winter, I perform no upkeep on these plants.

Blackberries aren’t my favorite fruit, but the cost-benefit exchange puts them on my top-24 list.

Salt & Pepper Cucumbers

5. Salt & Pepper Cucumbers

The yellow-white skin of these pickling cucumbers throws off some people, but they’ve outproduced the rest of the pickling cucumbers I’ve tried growing, so I don’t mind the color.

My garden has an intense Mexican bean beetle population with a taste for cucurbits. These cucumbers get going before the beetles show up and just keep growing while under siege.

6. Mexican Sour Gherkins

I learned about Mexican sour gherkins — aka cucamelons (pictured on this issue’s cover) or mouse melons —years ago at the Key West Community Garden in Key West, Florida. The vines look like delicate cucumber plants. The fruits look like tiny watermelons and taste like tangy cucumbers. They’re crisp and delicious when fresh and pickle well. They’re fun to bring to potlucks, too. I never seem to grow enough of them.

7-9. Three Toms

Every garden needs some tomatoes, but don’t simply stop at the Romas and the beefsteaks. Try planting these this spring.

RED PEARL TOMATOES: Grape tomatoes that ripen early, hold well on the vine, keep well after harvest, and produce until the frost? Red Pearls are a dream. I eat them whole and in salsa all season long, and when I can eat no more, I roast them with salt and olive oil and freeze them to use all winter in quiche and focaccia.

CA CHUA HONG TOMATOES: A Vietnamese heirloom, I’ve read about these tomatoes growing as large as 3 pounds, but I haven’t harvested any giants like that. Among the slicing varieties I grow, these produce first and longest. They’re meaty, so I don’t mind canning them, too. I describe the taste as a typical red tomato. For being indeterminate, the plants are a reasonable size.

LAURA’S POMME D’AMOUR TOMATOES: These plum tomatoes are an example of a variety not commercially available. I’m growing these in honor of Laura, a gardener who was developing this strain of large-thumb-sized, low-seed, high-pulp tomatoes when she passed away in 2009. I started growing these in 2020, and they’re the most productive and longest-producing of any other paste variety I grow.

10. Too Much Zucchini

“Too much” isn’t a variety; it’s a quantity. I have an affinity for summer squash just as I do for winter squash.

I eat zucchini for breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout the growing season, then shred and freeze the extras to add to meals and baked goods the rest of the year. I look for varieties that produce large plants to handle my garden’s cucurbit pest pressure.

11. Xiye Butternut

Maybe it’s too soon for me to declare my love to this squash, but the 45 pounds of massive, thick-skinned, long-storing Xiye (pronounced she-yay) butternuts yielded by a handful of plants last year outcompete every other butternut I’ve tried.

Xiye is under development by a farmer I met last year who’s motivated to find a butternut that thrives in her Tennessee garden. I’m impressed.

Jester Delicata

12. Jester Delicata

This is the last squash, I promise. I love delicata for its flavor and use as a vessel to stuff with all manner of grains, other veggies, fruits and meats.

Jester is a hybrid and looks like a cross between delicata and carnival squash. Jester has shorter vines than many winter squash, making it less of a garden bully.


13. Luffa

My neighbors grow luffa up a trellis on the west side of their home to add shade. I’ve always admired these crops to grow so I grew my own along a fence line last year. It’s one thing to be able to grow your own food but to be able to also grow your own sponges for bathroom and kitchen use feels next level.

14. Burgundy Okra

I appreciate my burgundy okra for its looks and more. They start producing when they’re only a couple of feet tall, releasing their cream-colored hibiscus-like flowers along their stalks and side shoots. I can’t get enough of these flowers!

The leaves are spineless, and the pods are easy to spot for harvest because they’re burgundy instead of green.

15. Don’t Forget the Flowers

In 2022, I realized I had more garden space than I did energy. I decided to let one row go fallow for the season, but instead of planting a cover crop, I planted a wildflower mix. The garden came alive with flowers and pollinators in a way I hadn’t expected.

That row remains in wildflowers, and I’ll never again have a garden that doesn’t involve these beauties.

16. Clary Sage

Clary sage is a newer medicinal addition to my garden crops to grow and one I wonder how I did without. This biennial starts with fuzzy, burdock-looking leaves.

In its second year, it sends up a stalk with tightly packed purple blossoms along it. I was pleased enough to find this, and then I was in awe witnessing flowers opening and stalk further unfurling over the next week. It was simply stunning.

17. Papalo

A nod to my more tropical farming experience, papalo — also called pore herb — is commonly used fresh in Mexico and Central America. It tastes similar to a lime cilantro, and a little goes a long way.

Cilantro is quick to bolt in Kentucky summers, but I can get a similar flavor with this bushy, prolific herb. I’ve heard that it can reseed and become weedy, but not here.

18. Munstead Lavender

Early in my farming journey, I was enchanted by a visit to a lavender farm in Idaho. Munstead lavender has been in my garden ever since. Lavender is medicinal and makes a delightful syrup.

I like that it offers a bit of a challenge as far as crops to grow, requiring a bit of a buffer from the coldest parts of winter and well-drained soil, instead of the heavy clay native to my garden.

19. Kapoor Tulsi

The first herb I ever grew on my own was Kapoor tulsi, also known as holy basil. This plant captivates me, from its herby-licorice-bubblegum scent to its purple flower stalks to the calming tisane resulting from steeping its leaves and flowers in hot water.

Be warned that it’ll reseed to the point of being weedy.


20. Garlic

I have been known to grow too much garlic. (OK, I consistently grow too much garlic.) But garlic cures well, I use it nearly every day and I appreciate having something green growing in the garden when everything else is brown and gray.

I also like to say garlic scapes are 80% of the reason that I grow garlic. If you’ve ever fermented scapes, you understand. The whole plant pleases me.

21. Swiss Chard

Greens are a staple of my diet. Swiss chard makes the cut for being the most productive through the summer.

While kale and collard plants are looking pale and getting picked on by harlequin bugs, the Swiss chard just keeps putting out large, shiny leaves. In the winter, it slows but rebounds alongside the temperature and daylight.

22. Fat Horses Beans

Dry beans are fun crops to grow, good for soil building and a great kitchen staple.

I was given a few fat horses heirloom dry beans while traveling in Mississippi a few years ago. I planted them in my first-ever garden and now eat these pintolike beans all the time. Heirloom beans each have a story, and by planting these varieties, you become part of the story, too.

23. Broccoli Rabe

I love broccoli, and honestly, I don’t have the patience for it in my crops to grow. Enter broccoli rabe. I’m looking for the broccoli-floret taste and the broccoli-stem crunch, and broccoli rabe offers this plus more leafy greens to satisfy me.

24. Salad Radishes

The opposite of broccoli’s long growth period, salad radishes’ quick growth makes me feel like I know what I’m doing in the garden. I grow too many radishes, then thin them and eat the thinnings as microgreens. I appreciate that radishes come ready so quickly in the spring, offering something new to eat before other early spring crops are ready.

Maybe like me you find garden planning is full of hope and sometimes overwhelming. Let my garden lessons guide you as you make your own list of 24 crops to grow in 2024.

This article about the 24 best crops to grow in 2024 was written for the January/February 2024 issue of Hobby Farms magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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