Spring Vegetable Gardening: It’s Time! (Or Will Be Soon)

Many vegetables are considered “cold season” crops, and they should be planted in the month of January in mild climate regions. However, we don’t live in a mild climate region. In fact, today had some pretty freezing winds going on outside. Our fellow growers in the North also have to deal with a short growing season. You may find yourself planting your warm and cold season crops side by side once the danger of frost has passed.

Cold season crops are hardy and can withstand colder temperatures, and actually, prefer to do most of their growing in the cooler months. A hard frost can still damage plants, so here is a list of vegetables you should be planting now, especially if you live in the northern-most regions of the country.

Arugula

As soon as the ground is workable, sow the arugula seeds directly in the ground. Seeds will germinate in about 10 days and are ready to harvest in about 4 weeks. This is a cool weather plant that grows best when temperatures are cool. To get a continuous harvest, sow the seeds every two weeks until the heat of summer begins.

Beets 

How to Grow Beets

Plant the beet seeds in the ground as soon as the soil is workable in the spring. Avoid fertilizers as they encourage top growth rather than root development and make sure the soil is well-draining.

Broccoli

Broccoli Plant

Sow the broccoli seeds in the garden about 4 weeks before the last frost date. If you started the plants indoors, set the seedlings out about 2 weeks prior to the last frost. Broccoli likes warmer days, ideally around 65-80 degrees. Use a low nitrogen fertilizer on the plants around 3 weeks after transplanting.

Cabbage

cabbage

Start the cabbage seeds indoors and transplant the seedlings in the garden about 2 weeks before the last frost date or sow the seeds directly in the garden after the last frost date.

Carrots

carrots
Photo by Jonathan Pielmayer

Sow the carrot seeds directly in the ground about 2 weeks before the last frost date. Thin the seedlings to 1-4 inches between each other when they are about 2 inches tall. Mound dirt or mulch over the shoulders to keep the roots from turning green and bitter.

Collards

collard-greens

Transplant the collards greens 4-6 weeks before the last frost date.

English Peas

peas
Photo by Rachael Gorjesta

Sow the pea seeds directly in the ground 4-6 weeks before the last frost date. The seedlings are hardy and can withstand a late snowfall and temperatures as low as 25 degrees.

Kale

Plant kale about 3-5 weeks before the last frost date. Cover this plant with a frost blanket if temperatures are expected to be low overnight.

Kohlrabi

kohlrabi

Plant kohlrabi in the garden around 4 weeks before the last frost date. Cover the young plants with a frost blanket if the temperatures are expected to be low overnight.

Of course, this isn’t an all-inclusive list of vegetables that can be planted in your garden this time of year. It’s important to know the last frost date in your area so you can get these crops in the ground on time. To find out the anticipated last frost date in your area, check with local gardening centers or go to a page with a last frost date calculator. There are many other reputable websites that can tell you this information just by putting in your zip code. Be prepared to cover your plants with frost blankets at night and remove them in the morning when planting vegetables this time of year.