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!

Spring Garden Crops
Both Kale and Lettuce are excellent 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.

Spring Garden Crops
Radishes are a fast growing Spring crop

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.

Spring Garden Crops
Sugar snap peas do best when supported with a fence or trellis

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.

Spring Garden Crops
Broccoli heads taste great and look great in the garden!

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

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