Frost-Tolerant Vegetables for Early Spring
Are you excited to get your garden started but unsure what to grow in the early spring? In this article, I'll share the top 10 early spring garden vegetables and when to put them in for your best success.
On our farm, we have 9,000 square feet of greenhouses and 11,000 square feet of outdoor gardens, so you can imagine we do a lot of planting in the early spring. It may not quite be time to plant tomatoes and squash, but it's a great time to get a few fresh vegetables going.
The early spring garden can be a lot of fun and easy, too, if you get the right plant selection and start them at the right time. Here are my 10 favorites.
Top 10 Early Spring Veggies
All right, now we know when to start. Let's look at the top 10 plants that will do great in the early spring garden.
- Kale: Kale is the champion of early spring growing, and it can take a really hard frost. You can either direct sow kale or transplant it into the garden.
- Spinach: Spinach needs to be direct sowed because it does not like to be transplanted.
- Radishes: You want to direct sow your radishes because they do not like to be transplanted.
- Salad Turnips: These are amazing spring vegetables, and they are not your grandma's old turnips. They are a Japanese salad variety that is meant to be eaten fresh (although they are great if you lightly saute them with a little oil and garlic!). They taste like a cross between a radish and an apple. The variety I like to grow is hakurei, and I like to direct sow them because they don't really like to be transplanted.
- Swiss Chard: You can direct sow it or you can transplant this tasty green.
- Lettuce: Lettuce can be direct sowed or transplanted.
- Cabbage: You can direct sow or transplant cabbage.
- Bok Choy: You can direct sow or transplant bok choy.
- Carrots: Carrots are direct sow only because they do not like to be transplanted.
- Broccoli: Broccoli can be started directly in the garden or transplanted.
So these are the top 10 vegetables that will take a frost and will get your garden off to a great start. To recap, find your zone. This will give you your average last frost date. Count back four weeks from that date, and this is the perfect time to start your early spring vegetables.
When to Start Planting Vegetables
So one of the biggest questions that I get is when to start the garden. Your planting zone will help you to determine when to get started. Planting zones are based on your average last frost, and most early spring vegetables can go into the garden four weeks before your average last frost because they can withstand the cold.
Let's say you're in zone 5 and your last average frost date is May 15. Then four weeks earlier is April 15th, and this is the perfect time to plant early spring crops. Whereas if you're in zones 9 or 10, then you can plant your early spring crops any time after January 1st.
How to Find Your Planting Zone
If you don't know your zone, then do an internet search on your city's name and then the words "planting zone" after that, and it should bring up your zone for your city. Or you can ask a neighboring gardener; they'll probably know when your average last frost is!
How to Transplant Vegetable Starts
Now, if you want to transplant some of those vegetables into the garden, then start the seeds in the house four weeks before you want to put them into the garden. Just be sure to harden them off before planting them out!
© 2022 Lynn Gillespie