After 19 years of growing vegetables at home in Israel, I’ve had a lot of harvests.

I’ve also had a LOT of flops.

After so many years, I have compiled this big list of veggies that are most likely to produce a rewarding harvest in Israel. They tolerate our long hot summer well and are almost completely free of pests in Israel.

If you don’t want to spend months caring for a veggie bed only to get a negligible harvest, here’s my Top 6:

1. Tomatoes

Minuses: 

Expect to wait 2-3 months until your tomatoes are ready to eat.

Start from: Seedlings from the nursery. Choose a variety that interests you and that you can’t buy easily/cheaply at the supermarket. Starting from seeds is doable if you have a LOT of patience and/or no other options.

Read More about Growing Tomatoes in Israel

2. Eggplants 

This eggplant made it through the winter and is already back to making flowers and fruit!

Minuses:

Expect to wait 3 months for your first ripe fruit

Start from: Seedlings from the nursery. Choose an interesting variety! 

3. Hot peppers

These jalapeno peppers made it through the winter and are still producing! They make wonderful schug, which is great served with challah and techina on Shabbos.

Minuses:

Expect to wait 3-4 months for your first ripe fruit

Start from: Seedlings from the nursery. Get interesting varieties!

4. Zucchini

Minuses:

Expect to wait just 1 month for your first ripe fruit

Just 1 month after planting a tiny seedling, you zuchinni will look like this – full of fruits and flowers. Give it anothr month and it will be 3 times the size!

Start from: Seedlings from the nursery. Due to the pumpkin fly, you can’t lose time growing from seed.

Read more about Growing Zucchini in Israel

5. Butternut squash

Minuses:

Expect to wait 2 months for your first ripe fruit

Start from: Seedlings from the nursery. Due to the pumpkin fly, you can’t lose time growing from seed.

6. Sweet potatoes

I started these sweet potato slips just but sticking an old sweet potato in the jar. I twisted them off and left them in water for a while to get them ready for planting. Note how I used toothpicks to prop up the tuber, since the jar was kind of big.
This photo, taken this week, shows my sweet potatoes from last year are gowing back from root fragments that remained in the ground.

Minuses:

Expect to wait 6-8 months until you dig up your tubers.

Start from: Just bury them shallow in the soil. No trip to the nursery needed.

Read more about growing sweet potatoes in Israel

I never want to go a summer without growing my top 6 summer veggies! They are so rewarding!

A selection of seedlings I just bought from Shtilei HaHar nursery in Abu Gosh. I was happy with their selection of seedlings, which come from the famous Yarok organic vegetable nursery, and sell for NIS 2.80 each.

Sometimes I plants other vegies too, but only for fun.

Below are a few I might skip this year…

5 Vegetables NOT to Grow in Israel

(except just for fun, with no expectation of significant harvest)

  1. Cucumbers – I get a very short season until the pumpkin fly (זבוב הדלוים) starts to destroy all my cukes. In late June, right after I finally overcome my mildew issues, and have installed various toy snakes and noisy plastic bags to scare the bulbul birds from eating the young cukes, the dratted fly shows up. Much as I love the idea of growing cucumbers, the reality over the past 5 years has gotten worse and worse. (Note: some say they don’t have an issue with the pumpkin fly in Jerusalem, but other parts of the country are badly affected)
  2. Sweet Peppers – they take forever, never grow very big in the home garden and often get mutilated by slugs, who you may find have been raising their slimy babies inside that lucious sweet pepper you pick after months of waiting

3. Sweet Corn – they are fun because they grow fast but you will need quite a lot of plants growing closely to get full ears and the resulting corn won’t be so sweet as you’re used to

4. Watermelon – they take a very long time just to produce 1 smallish melon and it will be crammed full of seeds. We are all spoiled by seedless watermelons for a good reason!

5. Green Beans – These grow super fast and produce well but since they are kitniyos, halachicly it is problematic to grow them in the same bed as other vegies. They work great if you can arrange a dedicated bed and set up a pole teepee for them to snake their way up faster than you can say “Fee, Fie, Foe, Fum!” You will need 6-8 plants if you ever hope to pick a bowl of beans for dinner, but the odd green bean tastes good snacked right off the vine! 

After writing this post, I went to the nursery and was tempted by the offering of bush bean seedlings (which don’t climb, unlike most beans). So I broke my own rules and decided to dedicate this whole raised bed to greens beens! Is that a good idea? Ask me in a few months!

Whatever you grow, remember to water often!

Vegetable plants are thirsty and the Israel summer is very hot.

Water 1-2 times a day for plants in the ground, 3-4 times a day for plants in pots.

Veggie plants also need sun. Many books say they need “full sun” (as in 6 hours a day) but in the scorching Israeli summer, a little bit of sun goes a long way. Three hours of direct sunlight should suffice for success.

And don’t forget to pray… for peace in Israel and abundant harvests too!

One last thing…

These lists are highly biased, based on my own years of experience in just 2 gardens. If you feel that this list is incomplete or just plain wrong, you are invited to tell us all how and why in the comments.

Happy planting!

4 Responses

  1. We are in an apartment without land, so I am wondering if these things grow well in containers, or can they be grown vertically.

    1. Most vegetables can be grown in pots, just pay careful attention to watering. In the height of the summer pots dry out quickly, so you may need to water 3-4 times a day!

  2. Hi, do you live in this farm? Is this a farm to visit or work by for others? I admire that you’re passionate in this life style as well as I am and another question, what type of farm is this, is it just for growing or do you have animals, and do you know any other farm in Israel?

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