Start Your Spring Garden with Cool Weather Vegetables
Some may argue for the benefits of waiting for warmer weather before working in their gardens, but despite the chill in the air, March is the perfect time to get your garden going. There are a lot of easy to grow vegetables that thrive in the cooler weather, making them perfect for early spring planting.
To be successful with starting your spring garden, remember to start planting when the soil is ready for working. Test your soil by grabbing a handful and forming a ball. The ball should crumble easily when poked. If it stays in large clumps, the soil is still too wet and will make it difficult for your plants to thrive.
Successfully germinating your seeds rely more on the state of your soil rather than the actual air temperature. While you may get bursts of sunshine, cold, clumpy soil can make your sowing fail. Invest in a soil thermometer — there are affordable ones that cost less than ten dollars — to find out whether the conditions are ideal for the seeds you want to plant. Many of the most popular spring vegetables need to be sown directly into the soil, rather than transplanted, so it’s best to play it smart with timing your planting.
Be ready for late frosts that can affect your seedlings. Save some old sheets to cover your plant beds in case frost sets in. Or even better, invest in floating row covers. They don’t only serve as protection, they also help raise the soil temperature by a few degrees, giving your plants a slightly warmer environment to grow.
Consider planting on raised beds instead of on the ground. The soil in raised beds tend to warm up sooner than the ground level soil.
Plan your sowing schedule well, starting with cool germinators like spinach and lettuce, before planting crops that prefer a bit more warmth, like kale, peas, and chard. If you have the room for it, stagger your planting into batches a week apart, to ensure that some, if not all, of your crops catch the best conditions for growing.
Here’s a round-up of the best vegetables for spring planting:
Arugula or rocket is an excellent salad green. This pungent, peppery leaf is eaten raw or added at the last minute in cooked dishes. Plant arugula early in spring, as soon as the ground is ready to be worked, then harvest in three to four weeks.
Snow peas, snap peas, and garden peas are planted as soon as the soil can be worked. This crisp, sweet vegetable can be grown in regular plant beds or in a trellis. Peas mature in sixty to seventy days. For more successful germination, soak pea seeds in water overnight before planting.
While this salad favorite can be planted as soon as the soil is ready, lettuce is more sensitive to the cold compared to other spring season vegetables. Be ready to cover them in case frost sets in. While full-sized lettuce heads are popular, harvesting them as baby greens is a faster, just as delicious alternative.
Spinach is hardy to frost and can be planted very early in spring. Some farmers even sow them on frozen ground to germinate as it thaws. It grows fairly fast and should be harvested before the weather becomes warm, otherwise, it will grow bitter.
Spring radishes can be planted as soon as the ground becomes workable. It is one of the fastest growing non-leafy green crop so it’s perfect for impatient gardeners. Harvest before high temperatures set in because it can cause bolting and softened roots.