Beginner's Guide: Early Season Veggies

Melinda How To: Early Season Veggies

Where to Plant & When...

Spring weather is such a tease. A few warm days and we are ready to start planting, that is until we're visited by a bit of snow or sleet. Even on those warm days the soil is still cold and late spring frost may be in the forecast. Fortunately, there are some plants that not only tolerate but thrive in cooler spring weather allowing us to get started planting this month.

Lettuce, Spinach, Kale, Collards and other Greens
Start planting these seeds directly in the garden in April so you can enjoy fresh greens in just a few months. Grow them in the vegetable garden, raised bed or containers. They combine nicely with pansies , calendula, snapdragons and other spring flowers for an attractive display. Planting transplants prepared for the outdoors (hardened off) allow you to start harvesting greens even sooner.

These nutritious vegetables thrive in cool spring weather and quickly decline when temperatures rise. So planting these early provides the biggest harvest. Peas are generally divided into three categories. English peas have a sweet flavor and a bright green color. The plump seeds are removed, the pod discarded and only the seeds are eaten. Snow peas are flat with small seeds inside an edible pod. Sugar Snap peas have a plump edible pod filled with seeds and can be eaten fresh or cooked. Whichever type of pea you choose , plant now and you'll begin harvesting in 60-70 days. As the plants decline from the heat, add them to the compost pile. Buy extra seeds so you can make an additional planting late summer for a fall harvest.

Carrots, Beets, Radishes and other Root Vegetables
Add a bit of crunch and nutrition to your meals with these plants. Begin planting now and throughout the growing season. Their tiny seeds can make it challenging to plant at the proper spacing.

Pelletized seeds are coated making the seeds larger and easier to handle. Seed tapes are strips of decomposable material with the seeds glued at the proper spacing. Just lay the seed tape in the furrow, cover with soil and wit for seeds to sprout.

Thinning is critical for all plants but especially these. Remove extra plants as needed to allow the remaining plants to grow full size roots. The greens of the plants are removed are edible. Just add them to your salad, sandwich or enjoy as a garden-fresh snack.

Sets, mini onion bulbs, can be planted this month. Wait for the soil to warm a bit to move hardened off transplants into the garden. Harvest onions grown from sets when 6-8" tall to use as green onions. Wait for the tops to fall on onions from plants or set when growing them for storage.

Broccoli, Cauliflowers and Cabbage plants
These plants like it cool but a frost can prevent broccoli and cauliflower from forming full size heads. An early start, however, allows the plants time to mature so you'll be harvesting before the temperatures rise. You'll enjoy sweeter less bitter flavor when broccoli and cauliflower are grown and harvested during cool weather.

Enlist the help of floating row covers to get an early start and harvest. These fabrics let air, light and water through while protecting the plants from frost. Just loosely cover the plants and anchor the edges of the fabric with boards, stones or landscape staples. As the plants grow, they support the fabric so no construction is needed. Leave the lightweight row covers in place until harvest for added insect control. This cover prevents the cabbage work adult moths from laying their eggs on the plants. This eliminates the holes they eat in the leaves and any unwanted insect protein that makes it in on the harvest.

When in doubt, check the back of the seed packet or plant tags for planting directions. Or ask one of the knowledgeable team members at Pasquesi for planting advice.

Enjoy Spring as you venture outside and begin planting. Your early season efforts will yield tasty vegetables to enjoy in just a few months.


Written by gardening expert, Melinda Myers. Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience. She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s Beginner's Guide to Gardening with you!