The ideal time to begin your vegetable garden is early spring, specifically if you’re growing vegetables that withstand the cool weather at the beginning of the growing season. When looking for vegetables to plant in spring, the USDA’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map provides information on which plants grow best in your area..
Gardening in the spring is the perfect excuse to spend time outdoors after being in your home all winter. To ensure you make the most out of your spring efforts, plant spring seeds at the right time, though this varies by location.
It’s recommended you sow seeds as soon as the ground thaws to take full advantage of the growing season but before the last frost of the season. Avoid planting in soil full of moisture from snow or rain so that your seeds don’t rot and any transplants you’re using have the best chance of growing.
Vegetables to Grow in Spring
Cool-season vegetables are unique because, unlike crops that thrive in warmer weather, cool-season crops germinate in cool soil between 40°F and 75°F and typically stop producing in early summer when temperatures reach 80°F.
Eggplant is one of the crops that needs warmer weather so check your hardiness zone. Learn about eggplant plant spacing, as well as spacing for all your veggies to deter pests and prevent disease.
Growing Brassicaceae in Spring
Brassicaceae is a group of flowering plants sometimes known as the cabbage family or crucifers. These plants contain several essential and common crops such as Brussels sprouts, collard greens, arugula, and common root vegetables like radishes, kohlrabi, and turnips.
Although it’s possible to plant this family of plants in spring, summer, or fall, for spring sowing, the cabbage family enjoys well-draining soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0 to reach maturity in 60-90 days.
Depending on your USDA hardiness zone, crucifers are what vegetables to plant in April to enjoy their crunchiness about three months later.
Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)
It’s no surprise that lettuce is one of the most widely planted vegetables in the USA. There are several cultivars of lettuce; among the most popular are leaf, romaine, and iceberg. Due to the ease at which lettuce grows, it is a favorite among farmers and home gardeners looking for vegetables to grow in spring or even vegetables to grow in September or October depending on your hardiness zone.
To grow the best lettuce crop, whether they are fall vegetables or spring ones, plant seeds in the well-draining soil of raised beds in your garden. Lettuce plants appreciate warm soil, so a location that receives full sun helps your plant grow in spring. If growing in summer or fall, adding and removing shade may be necessary to ensure your seeds germinate properly.
With too much sun increasing the temperature of your soil or drying the soil out, your lettuce may experience bolting. In plants, bolting refers to your crop halting leaf production to grow flowers and seeds instead.
Bolting happens when your plant tries to germinate the soil as quickly as possible as the changes in its environment lead it to believe the end of the growing season is near.
If you live in a cooler climate, rhubarb should be on the list of vegetables to grow in the spring. While most vegetables to grow in April benefit from a light freeze to help their flavor, rhubarb requires an extended chilling period with temperatures below 40°F to produce its signature stems.
As one of the veggies to grow in February, sow seeds in early spring once the ground thaws in sunny garden beds in a location that won’t be disturbed as rhubarb produces a harvest for up to eight years.
Note that when to plant rhubarb in zone 7 may be a little different than in zone 9 or 10 as the last frost date differs.
Harvest for rhubarb begins in year three once stalks are at least 12 inches long. To ensure your crop remains in the best condition throughout the year, as temperatures rise, add mulch or organic matter around your rhubarb to keep the soil moist.
Peas (Pisum sativum)
Peas are an excellent choice for starting a garden in spring due to the ease of growing. It’s simple to follow the way to grow peas from seed. Outside watering and eventual harvest, peas require little from you as diseases are not a common issue, and they do not attract too many pests other than aphids.
Green peas, including the tasty sugar snap, are excellent cool season vegetables as the young seedlings tolerate the colder weather around the last frost date for the season.
When to plant vegetables like peas is in early spring, allowing them to germinate and adapt to early spring’s damp and cold soil temperature. These seeds to plant in March also enable you to get a complete harvest in summer before the warm-season weather halts pea production.
Swiss Chard (Beta vulgaris)
Swiss chard is a superfood among spring vegetables that could easily replace spinach and kale in recipes due to its vitamins and the lack of a bitter taste we find with other leafy greens.
Though it cannot survive a hard freeze, chard grows well in cooler temperatures. It’s usually not one of the best vegetables to grow in June unless you have a really short growing season. In early spring, plant chard seeds a few weeks before the last frost in your area to allow time for the plant to mature before harvest.
Swiss chard does mature in hot weather, but chard is among the best vegetables to plant in spring due to the benefit in flavor it receives from a light freeze. As the water inside the Swiss chard freezes, the plant produces sugar to withstand the temperature, boosting the flavor of your crop.
The best time to plant Swiss chard in zone 6 is approximately two to four weeks before the last anticipated frost date.
Parsnips (Pastinaca sativa)
When wondering what vegetables to plant in spring, parsnips may not come to mind as they are not as well known as other root crops. Parsnips, which are related to carrots, are cold-hardy crops that grow well in zones four and five when the daytime temperatures range from 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Freezing improves their flavor.
Before planting, soak parsnip seeds overnight in water to speed germination. Plant parsnips in early spring, at least two weeks before the last frost date in your area, or when soil temperatures are close to 50°F.
When planting parsnips, some gardeners sow radish seeds with them. Radishes germinate quickly, and their seedlings help mark your parsnip rows and prevent the top layer of soil from crusting.
Planting parsnips or potatoes is different regarding timing. Potatoes cannot handle cold weather, while parsnips don’t mind.
Onion Family Vegetables to Plant in Spring
Veggies in the onion family like leeks and chives are great seeds to plant in spring because they are straightforward to grow. The best month to plant onions and other alliums depends on your growing zone. When looking at what can be planted in spring, there are a few options to start.
Heirloom seeds purchased from garden centers are the best but take longer to mature. Transplants are the next prospect for starting your onion patch; these are typically young onions harvested and then sold.
Transplants grow fast but are susceptible to stress such as transplant shock, which causes leaves to wilt. Your last choice is to grow from bulbs which are dormant onions grown from the previous season’s seeds; these grow into onions about two months after planting.
Harvesting onions should occur by late summer and only in dry conditions. Harvesting onions when the ground is wet causes them not to cure well, and they may rot in storage.
If you don’t harvest in summer, the leaves of your onions may begin to flop over. Flopping leaves means that your onions have stopped growing, are ready for a fall harvest, and require harvesting soon.
Soil Temperature and Knowing What Vegetables to Plant in Spring
Although we’ve highlighted some essential veggies to plant in spring, there is even more for you to discover. When the soil temperature is close to 40°F, sow seeds like kale, radicchio, and spinach.
Near 50°F, plant cultivars of Chinese cabbage, collards, leeks, and turnips; when the soil temperature is nearing 60°F, plant beets, broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower.
Now that you know what to plant in the spring, we hope you’re inspired to begin your spring vegetable garden. We recommend using the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map and local resources like the cooperative extension services for your area for more assistance.
We hope you found tips on what vegetables to plant in spring useful and will share what vegetables to grow in spring with your fellow gardeners on Facebook and Pinterest.