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Guide for Starting Outdoor Vegetable, Herb, and Fruit Gardens

Melody is a CDC volunteer with a passion for gardening and growing healthy food for consumption. She enjoys sharing her personal experience.

Outdoor Gardening

The spring is when outdoor gardens need to be planted and nurtured.

The spring is when outdoor gardens need to be planted and nurtured.

Getting Started

The best outdoor plants to grow in the spring are vegetables, herbs, and some fruits. Creating an outdoor garden requires spacing out what you plant and when to plant them based on their individual needs. Gardening is a journey, one which takes an investment of time, energy, and space.

Time Planting in three waves:

  • First Wave: Vegetables that are hardy and cold resistant.
  • Second Wave: Herbs that are cold-weather herbs.
  • Third Wave: Fruits and herbs that tend to be a little more sensitive to things like wind and cold.

Temperature is an important way to measure when it is the right time to plant during the springtime. Knowing your soil temperature is important. Monitoring your ground temperature is best. If you do not have the tool for that then you can try using one of the many online soil temperature maps.

Garden Space and Soil Health

Build a solid foundation for your garden by tending the soil. All dirt is not the same and may need additives to create the optimal growing conditions. Before you start adding anything to the soil it's a good idea to test your soil. You can buy simple soil testing kits from your local hardware store or online.

Once you know the condition of your soul, you will have a good idea about what it needs to grow the most healthy plants. Here are some examples of products that keep soil healthy.

Some ingredients to mix with soil are:

  • Peat moss
  • Sand
  • Compost
  • Vermiculite / Worm Casting
  • Perlite
  • Actino-Iron

Vegetables

Beans are one of many Vegetables that grow well when planted in spring.

Beans are one of many Vegetables that grow well when planted in spring.

Growing Season

Taking a stroll through your local home and garden center is the best way to find out what vegetables grow best locally. The experience of the employees should be helpful. There are also lots of online resources to help you choose the plants that will grow best in your climate zone.

There are lots of vegetables that grow well in the spring. Some need to be planted up to six weeks before the first frost, and other seeds should be sown well after frost. Early spring is a difficult time of year to motivate yourself to get outside, but the rewards are well worth the extra effort. Veggies like spinach, potatoes, and carrots need to be planted before the first frost. Cucumbers and tomatoes, on the other hand, need to be planted post-frost for best results.

Follow the planting directions on the package as closely as possible. If you are planning ahead, use the following table to know in what order to plant your springtime vegetable garden.

Vegetable Planting Directions

VegtablePlanting RangeFor Best Results

Spinach

4 to 6 weeks before last frost

Plant spinach early. Results are best when days are shorter.

Carrots

2 weeks before last frost

Carrots need a long time to mature, get them in as early as possible.

Green Beans

After last frost

Make sure beans have enough space to grow and pick them often to promote future growth.

Kale

3 to 5 weeks before last frost

Grows best with at least 6 hours of sun and will have a growth spurt when weather turns warm.

Beets

2 to 3 weeks before last frost

Soil needs adequate phosphorus levels and plants will need to be thinned.

Tomato

After last frost

Manage harvest by trimming non-fruiting branches.

Potato

4 to 6 weeks before last frost

Potatoes start to flop after 75°F.

Cucumber

2 to 4 weeks after last frost

Train cucumbers vines and plant in late spring.

Lettuce

4 to 6 weeks before last frost

The most important aspect of growing lettuce is water. They need lots and lots of water.

Peas

4 to 6 weeks before last frost

Plant peas in mulch. Their shallow roots makes losing them easy.

Broccoli

2 to 3 weeks before last frost

This plant must be planted on time. Double check ground soil temperature before planting.

Zucchini

1 week after last frost

Make sure to leave a lot of room for sprawling zucchini to grow.

Fruits

Growing fruits in the spring is a great way to cut down the grocery budget.

Growing fruits in the spring is a great way to cut down the grocery budget.

Planting in Spring

While many vegetables need to be planted before the frost, most fruits need to be started post-frost. With the prices of fruits on the rise due to various natural disasters, more and more people are growing their own fruits.

Fruits can be grown on bushes, vines, and trees. Some fruits produce quickly, but many types of fruits are more difficult to grow. If you plan to grow fruit you need to make a commitment. These plants need pruning and tender care before they will be ready to grow delicious fruits.

When growing fruits it is important to be very aware of the condition of the soil, and check that it is the appropriate pH. Matching the fruit to its preferred soil pH will assure that you get larger more luscious fruits.

Fruit Planting Recomendations

FruitRangeFor Best Results

Raspberry

Plant bare-root plants after the first frost.

Plant in full sun and prune anually

Strawberries

Plant in mid March to early April.

Plant on a cloudy day in rows. Pluck flowers to encourage roots to grow deeper.

Blueberries

Bushes should be planted in early spring.

This sensitive plant grows better if fertilizer is withheld until a month after planting.

Melon and Water Melon

Soil must be above 70 F.

All types of melons are temperature sensitive. Plant late, but allow for 80 days of growing.

Cherries

Plant in mid March to late April.

Cherries root best when planted in moist ground. Planting after an April shower is best.

Herbs

Herb gardening in the spring is a great way to save money and produce your own spices.

Herb gardening in the spring is a great way to save money and produce your own spices.

Outdoor Herb Growing During Springtime

Indoor herb farming has become practical as downsizing homes gain popularity. Outdoor herb growing can still be worthwhile during springtime. Outdoor harvests are often more bountiful then their indoor counterparts.

Lots of gardeners start their herbs indoors. You don't have to take the extra measure if you compensate for most herbs sensitivity to cold. One of the biggest mistakes over excited gardeners make is planting these plants too early.

When growing herbs consider using fertilizer to make sure that you have the correct pH to grow strong healthy plants. Mulch can also help some herbs grow more successfully outside.

Outdoor Herb Planting Informational Chart

HerbRangeFor Best Results

Basil

Plant when soil is 50 degrees F

Start 6 weeks before frost indoors if you choose not to wait until the ground warms.

Chives

Plant two weeks after last frost.

This full sun plant needs lots of water. Indoor farmers start 10 weeks before frost.

Borage

Sow after last frost.

Requires medium PH soil and room for deep roots.

Mint

Plant first week of May.

Mint grows a more bountiful harvest when planted in warmer soil during its first year. It grows fast, and will surpass catching up.

Oregano

Requires late planting when ground is a stable 70 degrees F.

This anti-aging herb requires lots of water and produces more when regularly trimmed.

Coriander

Sow after last frost.

Avoid over watering, as fungus can be an issue with this herb.

Sage

Plant 1 week after last frost.

This Mediterranean native needs to be planted in in soil that drains well with full sun.

Parsley

Plant after first frost.

Soil PH is important with Parsley, a medium PH is best.

Thyme

Seed after the soil temp is a steady 70 degrees F.

Using mulch with this plant can help avoid fungal issues and root rot.

Ginger

Plant a week or two after last frost.

This tropical plant thrives in warmth and grows wild in many places in the US.

Cilantro

Plant after last frost.

Another tropical native, cilantro can be grown in medium PH with moderate to full sun.

Lemon Balm

Start 2 to 4 weeks after last frost.

This plant is sensitive to the cold, and withers quickly if it doesn't get enough water.

Rosemary

Plant 3 to 4 weeks after last frost.

The secret to growing rosemary is to prevent it from getting to much wind.

Lavender

After last frost.

Lavender thrives when it is planted in dry soil.

planting-in-the-spring

Planning a Healthy Garden

As you can see from the planting charts above, if you don't have a gardening plan, you need to start one right away. You want to learn more about the plants you choose to grow and make sure that you have enough space to maintain a healthy garden.

If your garden is smaller than you hoped, then consider growing herbs indoors and leaving room for larger plants, such as vegetables and fruits.

If you are finding this information later in the season, know that some of these plants can be harvested multiple times. This means that you might be able to plant them late and still enjoy results.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Melody Collins

Comments

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 11, 2018:

This is a very useful article. The tables are a great reference source. I've begun work in my garden, so I appreciate the information that you've shared.