In the blink of an eye trees will be budding, flowers blooming and the best tasting fruits and vegetables will be well on their way to kitchen tables everywhere! No matter the season, grocery stores host an abundant bounty. So how do you know what is truly in season and bursting with the flavor nature intended? Do a little digging of course! There are too many to mention them all, so in the spirit of making choices easier, keep reading to get to the root of the best springtime fruits and vegetables to plant – or purchase – this spring!
Convenience is one of many reasons to grow your own produce. Saving some serious cash is another! According to a study by the National Gardening Association, “a home garden investment of $70 results in a savings of $530!” What and when to plant will vary depending on where you live. In early spring, the weather may be too chilly and damp in certain areas. However, some plants prefer the cooler temps as well as the lack of insects and disease that come with hot weather. When you make your garden choices, check with knowledgeable sources such as local nurseries to be sure they will thrive in your specific location and weather conditions. Now for the best of spring…
Asparagus is a perennial vegetable which means you can plant it once and it will return with an exceptional harvest for many seasons to come…often up to 15 years! You will usually see the first shoots when the soil temperature reaches about 50°. This favorite garden choice can be planted using crowns purchased from a local nursery. Begin planting 4-6 weeks before the last frost, giving them plenty of space to mature.
USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9 Sun Exposure: Full sun Soil Needs: Sandy, loamy
This tasty veggie will add color to your garden and your meals. Beets are great for spring planting as they can survive repeated light frosts in the 30° range. If starting from seed, you can expect a wait of 7 to 10 weeks for a harvest. Starting seedlings indoors is an option that offers edible young greens while you wait for the root vegetables to grow. Beets thrive in sun, consistent moisture, and air circulation, so allow some space between each plant.
USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11 Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade Soil Needs: Light, sandy loam, well-drained
Growing carrots is easy and eating them is even easier! This mild, sweet vegetable is frequently a kid-approved veggie! Also a great snack for dogs that encourages chewing to keep teeth clean and healthy. Carrots can be sown outdoors around two weeks before the last frost. With an expected height of approximately 18 inches, keep a few inches between each plant to reap a plump result. Covering tops with mulch keeps this root vegetable from inheriting a bitter taste. Choose some unique options other than the obvious orange. Carrots can take a bit longer to grow than some crops but are highly worth the wait. Especially with the giggles and wide-eyed astonishment of children as they pull the magic out of the ground!
USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 10 Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade Soil Needs: Loose, sandy, well-draining
A fragile plant like lettuce is another springtime favorite with its favor for the cool, rainy season. This is an easy plant to grow but keep in mind that it is not a fan of extreme heat. You’ll find that homegrown lettuce tastes much better than what you pick up at the grocery store, so get your picky eaters to give it another shot, they may fall for this spring staple! When your lettuce garden begins to grow, be alert to cold snaps and cover your crop until there’s a consistency of 60° daytime temps. Plant a new crop every 2-3 weeks and choose slow bolt (or longer to mature varieties) to keep your crop producing longer.
USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9 Sun Exposure: Partial shade Soil Needs: Rich, Loose, well-draining
Onions are favorites because of their versatility and ability to perk up any recipe, burger, or salad. Serve fried onion rings for a delicious appetizer or side. As early as February you can start seeds in containers indoors. Whether you start your own or choose bulbs, you’ll want to put them in the ground as soon as the soil is workable. Most varieties handle the cold well but checking the details of each variety before purchase is always a smart move.
USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 10 Sun Exposure: Full sun Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained
There is a tradition of planting the first peas on St. Patrick’s Day, though snow may prevent this party in some areas. Planting as late as April is fine as peas tend to catch up quickly. Peas can be picky since they dislike cold and even more so heat, so make them comfortable by planting early in your spring garden. They are fun to grow with the help of a trellis which makes harvest easier. There are many varieties to choose from including sugar snap and snow peas with their edible pods! Also available are green, purple, and yellow varieties to add a color splash to your garden!
USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11 depending on the variety Sun Exposure: Partial shade Soil Needs: Varies depending on the variety
Who doesn’t love baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, and most of all…French fries? To plant, dig a 6” deep trench in well-drained, loose soil. Place cut potatoes in the dirt with eyes facing up. Then cover the potatoes with approximately two inches of soil. As the plant grows, add more soil along the sides of each plant. Potatoes are another fun choice that comes in colors such as pink, purple, and blue, which are rare in grocery stores!
USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 10 Sun Exposure: Full sun Soil Needs: Loamy, acidic
Radishes are one of the quickest vegetables to spring up in your garden. You could be harvesting these little red treasures in as little as 25 days! The speed of growth makes them a perfect beginner’s plant for impatient kids! Color options are plenty here, too…including black! Radishes are intriguing because you can plant them in early spring when the ground is fairly dry. The surprise is, you can also plant them again toward the end of summer and early fall all the way to four to six weeks before the first frost arrives. Planting is easy by dropping the seed into a 1” depth with a spacing of 2” between each.
USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11 Sun Exposure: Full sun Soil Needs: Loamy, sandy, moist, but well-drained
These beautiful berries are loaded with antioxidants and are a perfect snack food as fun to look at as they are to eat! Planting in early spring yields the best-tasting berries. Rotting can be a problem, so plant them in a raised planter with rich, well-draining soil. Compost will be a berry good treat to help the fruit thrive. A healthy bush can get as big as four feet tall and three feet wide. Consistent water results in juicer berries, which may also entice birds. Keep them covered with netting to keep them protected from predators. The pretty white blooms against green leaves will soon turn into gorgeous red berries for a delicious summer treat!
USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 7 Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade Soil Needs: Rich, fertile, well-draining
Popeye’s stand-bymust be grown in cool weather before it goes to seed. Spinach grows very fast, so it will be ready for dining without a long wait! Keep it coming by planting new spinach directly into the soil every week or two until frost. Another awesome feature is spinach can grow in the shade of crops that will follow when your green superfood fades away. Plant in rows approximately 1” deep, spaced 12”-18” apart. Spinach is perfect to sneak into smoothies for nutrition they’ll never taste!
USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11 Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial sun Soil Needs: Well-draining, loamy, moist