5 Plants for an Early Spring Garden

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The beginning of March brings us a tad bit closer to being able to plant our spring garden. I look forward to days where the sun is warmer, the ground is softer and tiny little buds are started to poke out of tree branches. The key to any successful spring garden is knowing when to begin planting. Obviously, your location plays a huge part in when those first plants get put in the ground. Before you decide to start planting your spring garden, check out The Farmer’s Almanac to figure out your average last frost date. This will give you a good idea of when to put your plants in the ground. However, knowing which plants do best in cooler temperatures will also help ensure your success. Putting in tomatoes and cucumbers while the air is still chilly will result in absolutely zero tomatoes and cucumbers! Here are my favorite plants for an early spring garden:

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plants for a spring garden

By Tarunpant via Wikimedia Commons

1.  Greens:  Leafy greens of all varieties do best before the weather gets too hot. Spinach, lettuce, arugula, and even things like Swiss chard or kale will do well in cool temperatures. They don’t like frost, though, so make sure that you cover the plants at night with an old sheet if the temperature will be below freezing.

2. Cruciferous vegetables:  This includes all members of the cabbage family. Vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts all fall into this family. These plants tend to need quite a bit of nutrients in the soil so make sure you turn some compost into the garden soil before you plant.

radishes for a spring garden

“Rave (Raphanus sativus)”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org

3. Radishes:  Radish seeds should be sown directly into the soil that they will live in….don’t try transplanting them from a seed starter or you wont get too many radishes! Just sprinkle radish seeds lightly over the soil and cover with just a small amount of soil. They will need to be kept lightly damp so don’t let them dry out or over water. There are tons of different varieties of radishes that you can grow in your spring garden. I have good luck with Daikon radishes but your success may vary depending on location and soil.

4. Turnip – Plant turnip about 2 weeks BEFORE the last frost date. In order to achieve a healthy turnip crop you will need to keep the soil consistently damp throughout it’s entire growing season. If you want to eat the greens, they will be the most tender if you plant in a fertile soil.

What to plant in an early spring garden

Base Photo Courtesy of Morguefile

5. Beets: You can sow beet seeds as soon as you can actually work the soil. They will grow best in a well drained and slightly sandy soil. Don’t add fertilizers with a lot of nitrogen in them or you will get more ‘greens’ than you will ‘beet’. Make sure the soil is loose and well aerated and keep them consistently moist throughout the entire growing season. Make sure to keep the beds weed free to avoid competition for nutrients.

Have you started planning a spring garden yet?

Comments

  1. Very helpful. What about peas and beans? I can never remember which should be planted on St. Patrick's Day.
    • Snow peas should be planted early and traditional 'green beans' are a summer produce and do best when soil and air are warmer. At least, that is what I do!

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