There are three basic guidelines to follow: Plant the vegetables that you and your family like to eat; plant vegetables that are suited to your region, to the time of year, and to the space and time you can devote to gardening; decide if you are going to eat what you grow fresh, or freeze, store, dry, or can.
Here are some quick lists to get you started:
Best Crops for a Short Season: arugula, beans (bush), beet, cabbage (early cabbage and Chinese, carrots, lettuce, mustard greens, onions (from sets), peas, radishes, scallions, turnips.
Best Crops for a Long Season: artichokes, asparagus, beans (pole, dry, lima, and soy), celery, eggplant, kale, leeks, onions, peppers, potatoes, rhubarb, tomatoes.
Best Crops for Cool Weather: arugula, asparagus, broad and fava beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage (including Chinese), carrots, cauliflower, celery, chicory, collards, endive, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustard greens, onions, parsnips, peas, potatoes, radicchio, radishes, rhubarb, rutabagas, Swiss chard, shallots, spinach, turnips.
Best Crops for Warm Weather: globe artichokes, beans (except fava), corn, cowpeas (blackeyed peas), cucumbers, eggplant, lima beans, melons, okra, peppers, pumpkins, soybeans, New Zealand spinach, squash (summer and winter), sweet potatoes, tomatoes.
Crops Requiring the Least Space: beans (bush and pole), beets, carrots, Chinese cabbage, eggplant, leeks, lettuce, mustard greens, onions, parsnips, peppers, radishes, sunflowers, Swiss chard, tomatoes, turnips.
Crops Requiring the Most Space: artichoke (globe), broccoli, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers, melons, peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash.
Most Productive Crops for Time Invested: beans (bush), broccoli, onions, beets, carrots, Swiss chard, Chinese cabbage, New Zealand spinach, mustard greens, lettuce, turnips, cabbage, radishes, spinach, summer squash.
Easiest Crops to Grow: Tomatoes, beans (green and dry), beets, lettuce, potatoes, radishes, most root crops, salad greens, squash (summer and winter), sunflowers, Swiss chard.
Challenging Crops to Grow: cantaloupe, cauliflower, celery, Chinese cabbage, corn, leeks, parsnips, peas, watermelon.