If you are chomping at the bit to get in your garden – there is no need to wait any longer! Now is a great time to get that garden growing with all types of delicious, early season, cool temperature-loving Spring garden crops!
Not only are they tasty – but many cool weather crops can be harvested in as little as 30 days after planting – getting fresh home-grown produce on your dinner table fast. Spring garden crops grow best in loose, fertile and well-drained soil – making them ideal for growing in raised beds where soil can be amended easily with compost. (See: How To Simple and Inexpensive Raised Beds)
Here are some of our favorite early season crops to grow – along with a few hints on planting and caring for each. As for our seeds sources – we purchase nearly all of the varieties below from Baker Creek, Johnnies, Seed Savers Exchange, Patriot Seeds and the Sustainable Seed Company.
Spring Garden Crops
Radishes – Radishes come in almost every shape and size – and some varieties can be picked in as little as 28 days. Plant 1/4 inch deep in loose, fertile and well-drained soil for best results. Thin after seeds sprout to allow for the appropriate growth of your variety.
Radishes like consistent moisture – so keep them watered. Radishes are a great succession plant – plant every 2 weeks to keep your family in fresh radishes through late fall. Two varieties we love – Watermelon (more mild) and Early Scarlett Globe (spicy).
Spinach – Spinach loves cool weather – so it’s a great Spring and Fall crop! Sow seeds a few weeks before your last frost date, planting about an inch apart and 1/2″ deep in the soil. Like radishes – spinach can be succession planted to keep a fresh supply on the table. Our favorite varieties – Bloomsdale and New Zealand.
Lettuce – Spring is the perfect time to get great tasting lettuce in all shapes, colors and sizes growing in your garden. Lettuce germinates quickly – and many varieties can be harvested multiple times – keeping fresh salads on the dinner table every night! Lettuce grows best in rich, loose and fertile soil. Sow seeds directly into the soil about 1/4″ deep and an inch or so apart. We actually prefer the plants close to each other creating a full salad bed that not only produces heavily – but looks beautiful in the garden. Favorites: Parris island, Winter Density, Red Romaine, GreenStar, Red Salad Bowl and Black Seeded Simpson.
Kale – Kale is one of the healthiest Spring garden crops you can grow and thrives in the cooler weather! Kale can be sown about 4 weeks before your last frost date.
Plant seeds 1/2″ deep in loose soil. Young kale leaves are the best for salads and fresh eating – or let them grow larger to make homemade kale chips. Favorites : Red Russian and Blue Curled Scotch
Sugar Snap Peas – There may be no better treat than fresh picked sugar snap peas from the garden. It always seems like a huge bonus when we can actually stop eating them right off the vines and they make it to the house for a meal! You can sow seeds as soon as the soil can be worked – planting every few inches about 1/2″ to 3/4″ deep. You will need to provide a little support in the form of a trellis or wire fence to keep them off the ground. Favorites – Sugar Ann and Dwarf Grey Sugar
Spinach – The taste of fresh spinach can hardly be matched! Whether using fresh in salads – or cooking lightly to perfection – spinach is a power crop of healthy goodness. Spinach seeds can be sown directly into the soil about 2 weeks before your last frost date. Plant seeds 1/4″ to 1/2″ deep every few inches. As they mature – you can thin to about 3″ between each plant. Favorites in our garden : America Spinach and Corvair
Cauliflower – Cauliflower is tricky to grow from seed in the garden – so you are much better off starting seeds indoors 6 weeks before planting or purchasing plants from your local nursery. You can put plants in the ground a few weeks before your last frost date and be snacking on the delicious vegetable in just a few months. We leave about 18″ between each plant – but some varieties need up to 2 feet. Our favorite is Early Snowball.
Broccoli – Much like cauliflower, broccoli is best planted as a transplant in the garden and not grown directly from seed. You can plant seedlings a week or two before your last frost date, leaving 18″ to 24″ of space between each plant.
Broccoli really loves rich, fertile soil – so be sure to add in plenty of compost in and around the planting hole to get it off to a great start. Favorites : Calabrese and De-Cicco.
Cabbage – Cabbage again is another vegetable that works better as a transplant. Start seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before planting. You can plant cabbage into your garden a week or two before your last frost date. Cabbage can grow big – so leave a good 24″ between plants. As the heads begin to form – you can actually put pantyhose over the heads to keep out the dreaded cabbage worm. Favorites : Early Jersey and Farao
Spring Onions – Spring onions are a fantastic addition to a Spring garden plan – and are simple to grow in raised beds or containers. Sow seeds 3 to 4 weeks before your last frost date – sowing them one per inch and about 1/2″ deep into the soil. Some varieties can be ready to pick in as little as 60 days. Favorites : Warrior Bunching and Nebuka.
So get those Spring garden crops planted and get your growing season off to a great start! If you would like to receive our DIY & Gardening Tips each week – be sure to sign up to follow the blog via email in the right hand column, “like” us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.
Happy Gardening! – Jim and Mary