Great Early Spring Vegetables to Grow

Great Early Spring Vegetables to Grow

As winter slowly transforms into early spring, there are many fantastic vegetables that can be planted. Some vegetables prefer warm or hot weather, but there are many that perform best in cool temperatures. To get a jump on your vegetable garden, try growing a few cooler season vegetables in early spring. Here are just a few vegetables that grow best in cooler seasons.

Lettuce

Black-Seeded Simpson Lettuce

Lettuce is a cool weather crop that performs best when grown before the heat of summer starts coming in.

Head lettuce can be started indoors six weeks before the last frost date and transplanted outdoors three weeks before the last frost date.

Leaf lettuces can be direct-sowed in the garden in early spring or fall.

Thin seedlings to about 8 inches apart or 12 inches apart for head lettuces in rows at least 18 inches apart. Be sure to pull any weeds by hand to avoid disturbing the delicate, shallow roots of nearby plants.

Try to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Use mulch around plants to help keep soil cool and moist.

You can make successive plantings for a prolonged harvest. Most lettuce seedlings can tolerate a light frost.

Head lettuces need a long, cool growing time compared to leaf lettuces. Leaf lettuces can be harvested when the leaves reach about 2 inches.

When leaves are 4 to 6 inches, the entire plant can be pulled and used in salads before they become bitter and tough.

Some excellent lettuce varieties to grow are:

Peas

Wando Peas

Peas, also called English Peas or garden peas, are a great crop to start in early spring.

Peas perform best when temperatures remain below 80°F, but above 25°F. They can tolerate temperatures below 25°F for brief periods, but prolonged exposure can have detrimental effects in later development.

Flowers can drop off and vines can wither if temperatures rise above 80°F.

Direct-sow peas in the garden as they do not perform well when transplanted.

Most pea plants need a trellis or stakes for support. Plant the seeds at a depth of 1 inch and about 6 to 8 inches apart.

Some recommended pea varieties are:

Broccoli

Green Goliath Broccoli

Broccoli grows more vigorously in cooler weather and can be planted in spring or fall. It grows best in rich soil with plenty of nitrogen and calcium.

Broccoli can be started indoors and transplanted in the vegetable garden, or direct-sowed about 18 inches apart in the garden.

Grow from seed when the soil is about 40°F or above, or from transplants when the soil reaches 60°F.

You might want to try these broccoli varieties:

Cauliflower

First White Cauliflower

Cauliflower can be grown in much the same way as broccoli. Seeds can be sown directly in the garden when soil temperatures reach about 40°F. Seedlings can be transplanted in well-drained, rich soil that receives full sun to slight shade.

Weed very carefully around cauliflower to avoid damaging leaves which can cause under-developing heads (or buttoning).

To protect white cauliflower varieties from sunscald, blanching may be necessary.

Blanch by pulling the longest leaves over the head and hold them in place with twine or soft strips of cloth.

Begin blanching as soon as you see a head and make sure the leaves are dry. Purple and green varieties do not need blanching.

A couple awesome cauliflower varieties for your vegetable garden are:

Brussels Sprouts

Long Island Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts can be planted by seed 1/2-inch deep and 2 inches apart in an outdoor seed bed about 90 days before the first frost date.

They require rich soil with good compost or well-aged composted manure.

Stalks can produce 50 to 100 sprouts at the points where the leaves join the stalk. They can be interplanted with lettuces and spinach.

Use a good organic fertilizer for feeding seedlings and protect them from direct sun until they are well established.

Some Brussels Sprouts for your vegetable garden are:

What Spring Vegetables Do You Grow?

These are just a few of the vegetables that can be planted in early spring. What other types of vegetables do you plant in early spring? Please share!

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9 Comments on Great Early Spring Vegetables to Grow

  1. I’m trying to get our veggie garden tilled up. It’s been raining too much though. Did you really mean the first frost on the brussell sprouts or the last frost? I’m just wondering. I did them for the first time last year and unfortunately my chickens got them before I got to harvest them. This year ~ FENCE!
    .-= Jackie Lee´s last blog ..Garden Planning Preschool Style [Project] =-.

    • Hi Jackie! What I meant on the 90 days thing with the brussels sprouts is they should be planted at least 90 days before the first frost in fall. Simply put, they should be planted at least 3 months before you get the first frost in fall. Does that make better sense? I apologize if I was not clear there :)

      I haven’t even started cultivating my garden yet, and we have had a lot of rain as well. I probably won’t do it until the first of April for most of my vegetables. My last frost date is around April 15th, and I like to plant soon after getting the beds ready.

      Yes, I think you need some anti-chicken fence!

      Tee

  2. “Seeds can be sown directly in the garden when soil temperatures reach about 40

  3. I am trying Swiss Chard and Kale as early season crops this year. I live in Zone 3-4 and our last frost date is May 24. Very short season. Trying out some Burpee Tunnel Covers this season in the hopes that the soil will stay warm enough for zuchinni and cucumbers.

  4. You'll love gardening and canning – it is so rewarding. Please, however, contact your local Extension Office to get up-to-date canning guidelines and recipes (they usually have great classes in summer). It is very important to know how to safely preserve foods without compromising the health of your family. Unless a recipe is tested by scientists, it should not be used. Botulism toxin is a very real and life-altering, if not fatal food poisoning. It is MUCH more serious than tummy upset and diarrhea. You shouldn't be scared of it, but you should take it very seriously.

    -Doris

  5. welcome! I'm originally from MN and that is where I was introduced to gardening. My mom always had a large garden. I disliked having to help her in the garden at the time because I was pulling weeds for her, or I was cutting up the HUGE pile of beans on the kitchen table that she was going to can, but she evidently "planted that seed" in me because now I love gardening and can't wait tend to my garden. I even find an odd enjoyment in pulling weeds now! lol

  6. Thanks Doris for the info. I have been canning for years, I use to help my mom can. But it always good to know what you are doing, I do  think of Botulism when I am canning, it is a scary thing. I try to be very careful when canning.

    Tammy, I still hate weeding the garden. I try and get my kids to do it or my husband, LOL! I pay the kids a penny a weed. They lose interest pretty quick, but it keeps them out of trouble and its less I have to do :o)  Where are you now, if you aren't in MN anymore?

  7. Thanks Doris for the info. I have been canning for years, I use to help my mom can. But it always good to know what you are doing, I do  think of Botulism when I am canning, it is a scary thing. I try to be very careful when canning.

    Tammy, I still hate weeding the garden. I try and get my kids to do it or my husband, LOL! I pay the kids a penny a weed. They lose interest pretty quick, but it keeps them out of trouble and its less I have to do :o)  Where are you now, if you aren't in MN anymore?

    sorry for the late reply – I've been offline for about 3 days.  I moved out to the west coast (Seattle) in 1991, then moved to southern oregon in late 2000. I get back to MN occassionally, but not as often as I would like due to cost of airfare. I was back last June and will go back again in early 2014 for my grandmas 90th bday party.

  8. Hi, I'm from MN also. Just joined the forum today, hoping to learn lot's of idea's from the members. I'm from the twin city area, where are you located?

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