Cool Season Vegetable Seminar

Vegetable seminar Lisa

Earth Day is everyday when you start a vegetable garden!

If you missed the 'Spring Vegetable Seminar' with horticulturalist, Lisa Hilgenberg, on April 20, 2019, she offered lots of tips for making our gardens a great success. Here is a list of her favorite fruits, vegetables and edible flowers for spring planting.


Cool Season Crops

Asparagus: Harvest succulent spears in early spring ‘Millennium’, ‘Purple Knight’, ‘Jersey Knight’

Perennial vegetables: Chives, spring onions, ramps, horseradish, sorrel and rhubarb

Radish: Direct sow spring radish as soon as the ground can be worked or 3-4 weeks before the last frost.  Best grown quickly in cool damp conditions. Easy to grow, requires only 28 days from planting to harvest. ‘Early Scarlet Globe’, ‘Rudolf’, ‘Crunchy Royale’, ‘Cheriette’

Beets: Nothing says spring like tender, freshly harvested baby beets. Sow as soon as soil can be worked, fertilize with liquid seaweed, beets have great culinary versatility. ‘Detroit Dark Red’, ‘Bull’s Blood’, ‘Burpee’s Golden’, ‘Badger Flame’

Swiss chard can be used like spinach: try ‘Rhubarb’, ‘Five Colored Silverbeet’, ‘Peppermint’

Carrots: The sweetest, juiciest and most flavorful carrots are the French heirlooms. Sow two weeks before last frost date. Varieties ‘Paris Market’, ‘Scarlet Nantes’

Spinach: One of the earliest germinating cool season vegetables, direct sow in bands or rows. Plant ‘Corvair’, ‘Tyee’, ‘Donkey’

Lettuce: Buttercrunch and romaines are the most frost tolerant: ‘Tennis Ball’, ‘Black Seeded Simpson’, ‘Rouge d’hiver’, ‘Winter Density’. Plant every two weeks until Memorial Day and again in the fall.

Spring Greens: Change up your salad ingredients to improve crunch and flavor. Try growing mache, arugula, mizuna, endive, radicchio, cress

Cabbage: Select early varieties ‘Early Jersey Wakefield’ , ‘Alcosa’

Broccoli: ‘Spring raab’, ‘Calebrese’

Cauliflower is best grown from mid-summer into the cool fall weather rather than planting in the spring and growing to harvest in mid-summer

Kale: ‘Nero di Toscano’, ‘Siberian, ‘Dazzling Blue’

Pac choi: ‘Red Choi’, ‘Mei Qing’, ‘Joi Choi’

Peas: Check seed packets for varietal information like vining or bush habit: ‘Super Sugar Snap’, ‘Blue Podded Shelling’

Potatoes: Select early, mid or late varieties: ‘Yukon Gold’, ‘German Butterball’, ‘French Fingerling’

Strawberries ‘Tri-Star’, ‘Mara des Bois’

Cool season edible flowers: Nasturtiums, alyssum, calendula, pansies, snap dragons


General early spring vegetable tips for home growers:

  • Choose greens or root vegetables that will sprout in cool soils of spring.
  • Choose frost tolerant vegetables like spinach, radish for earliest direct seeding.
  • Root vegetables should be direct seeded into the garden.
  • Plant spring greens at two week intervals for continuous harvest, hedging late frosts.
  • Pop a cloche over strawberry plant to protect early flowers from damaging frosts.
  • Plant lovely heirloom lettuces planted with pansies for cool season combinations: yellow and blue pansies, curly parsley, blue lobelia, green oak leaf lettuce, red romaine lettuce and bunching onions.
  • Plant cool season herbs for spring gardens: cilantro, flat leafed parsley, chervil, sage, mint or chives. 


Thanks, Lisa, for giving us a jumpstart on growing our own vegetables and fruits.