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 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, 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 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 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 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!