Who says you have to wait until the heat of summer to have a thriving Spring vegetable garden? There are several vegetables that grow very well in cooler conditions. If you know what to plant and when to plant it, growing your own vegetables can be something you do spring, summer, and fall!
Vegetables that like cooler temperatures do well in some zones planted directly in the ground. If you fear the cooler night temperatures, cover young veggies with a tunnel or row cover at night. Or, if you like having them accessible, consider planting your cool weather vegetables in window boxes or pots on your porch.
These plants can tolerate daily temperatures in the 20s. Some extra-hardy vegetables even do well in the teens! Remember, though, that no matter when and where you plant these vegetables, a hard freeze will kill them.
Spinach is a great choice for your spring garden because it grows quickly. You may be harvesting spinach leaves as early as 3 weeks after planting! Spinach comes in several varieties which can be grown together and mixed for salads and other dishes. If you care for fall spinach properly during the winter by mulching over it, you may see early spring greens!
Chard is another cool weather vegetable that can be grown by even a novice gardener. It comes in vibrant shades of red, yellow, white, and green. Not only is chard pretty to look at (making it a unique edible ornamental!), but it also has a variety of uses. It can be eaten raw in salads or blended into smoothies, or it can be cooked and served as a side dish.
Another salad green, lettuce, grows well in the spring, too. Consider growing smaller heads than what you’d normally find at the market. This ensures that the leaves are tender and you’ll have a constant supply of salad greens. Expert gardeners recommend staggering out your lettuce planting by a week or two so that all of your lettuce doesn’t come in at once.
Kale is easy to grow and useful for many purposes, including salads, smoothies or stir-fry. If you don’t like the tougher texture and strong taste of full-grown kale (harvested anywhere from 40-60 days after planting), consider harvesting baby kale after just 3 or 4 weeks.
Radishes work great with all of the salad greens we’ve discussed so far. Radishes grow quickly as well, and they come in a variety of flavors, from sweet to spicy, to suit most tastes. They can be planted right along with your greens for a beautiful and thriving garden.
Peas of all varieties are yet another great cool weather vegetable. Peas take a little longer to harvest – around 60 days – but they can be stored by freezing or canning for enjoyment all year long. But they are easy to harvest, with no cutting required. From snow peas to green peas to black eyed peas, you’re sure to find a variety of pea to grow in your own backyard.