7 Hard-to-Grow Vegetables You’re Better Off Buying at the Store

There are some veggies that even veteran gardeners hesitate to tackle. These plants are notoriously hard to grow and are–frankly–more trouble than they’re worth. Unless you’re dedicated to challenging your skills in the garden, it’s so much easier to buy these baddies at the supermarket!

Broccoli

The broccoli you grow at home will look nothing like the massive green beauties you find at the grocery store. Broccoli needs extremely rich soil and careful growing conditions to avoid the florets blooming. This veggie also thrives in cooler climates, which is a bummer for anyone living in the southern United States.

Artichokes

The trouble with artichokes is mimicking their native conditions from the Mediterranean region. These tasty veggies like sandy, well-drained soil and warm weather. A bad winter will kill off your whole crop! You’ll have to work hard to establish artichokes in your garden even under the perfect conditions.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower is having a moment. Once the gluten-free brigade figured out that you can make all kinds of things–including “rice” and “pizza crust”–out of cauliflower, this humble veggie became all the rage. Unfortunately, it’s one of the toughest vegetables to grow in your garden. It is vulnerable to cabbage worms, black rot, temperature changes, nitrogen-poor soil… the list goes on.

Eggplant

Even though it’s from the same plant family as peppers and tomatoes, eggplant is a notoriously hard vegetable to grow. It is picky about soil, and you may need to tinker with nutrient levels to keep the plants happy. You’ll also need a long growing season or a greenhouse to get a decent harvest.

Asparagus

Oh, asparagus. You’re so delicious but so frickin’ hard to grow. The main challenge is establishing an asparagus patch over several growing seasons. For the first 2-3 years after planting this difficult veggie, you won’t get a harvest. The good news is that the perennial crop will keep coming back year after year–as long as you’re patient.

Onions

Onions are so cheap and plentiful, it seems like too much work to grow them yourself. Especially since onions grown from sets (AKA bulbs) tend to be smaller and wimpier, while plants grown from seed need a huge amount of time and care to get started.

Celery

This snack staple need very precise conditions to grow. Celery requires frequent watering–which makes sense because the plant itself is mostly water. The extra moisture in the ground makes finding the right soil a challenge, too. If you have dense, clay-based soil it’ll get waterlogged, but if you have sandy soil the watering may erode your garden beds.

Celery also needs a long growing season with cooler temperatures, which limits the zones where it will thrive.

Watermelons (ok, so we added a fruit)

The main challenge with growing watermelons–or any kind of melon, honestly–is the long growing season. You’ll also need a ton of space since these plants send out runners that can quickly take over your yard.