Best Plants for Your Spring Garden (And When to Plant Spring Garden)

Best Plants for Your Spring Garden

Spring is a great time to plant vegetables in your spring garden. After the cold winter months and when the weather warms, you can start sowing seeds, planting bulbs, and getting root vegetables in the ground. The best vegetables to plant in spring are ones that can survive light frosts, warm sunny days, and cool nights. If you plant vegetables at the right time, your spring garden could produce lettuce, kale, carrots, peas, and radishes by early summer.

The time to plant vegetables in the spring is typically after the last frost. You’ll need to prepare the soil for planting and plan a vegetable patch layout, so your spring vegetables grow well. It’s also a good idea to plant spring flowers along with vegetables to attract pollinators. This way, you’ll help ensure that the vegetables you planted in spring grow well.

This article is a guide to getting a spring garden ready to produce a bumper crop of vegetables. You will learn about the best vegetables to plant in spring and how to ensure they grow well. In addition you will also learn about a number of garden layout ideas.

When to Plant Spring Garden

The best time to start planting vegetables in your spring garden is after the last frost. It’s best to check the USDA Hardiness Zone Map to start planning your spring garden. For most spring vegetables, it’s best to start them indoors. You’ll also need to start preparing your garden soil about two weeks before you plan to start planting.

How to Choose the Best Plants for a Spring Garden

The best plants for a spring garden should be tolerant of some frost. Typically, the best spring crops are those that perform better in both cool and warm weather. If you get unexpected snow or frost after planting, it’s best to cover the newly planted vegetables to protect them.

Some crops can be planted directly in the ground after the snow has melted. For other spring-planting vegetables, you’ll need to start them indoors from seed at least four weeks before planting in the ground.

Many types of root vegetables can be planted in the ground in early March.

The Best Plants in a Spring Garden – Overview

Planting a successful spring garden requires choosing the best vegetables.

The first vegetables to plant in spring garden after the last frost are kale, spinach, onions, peas, turnips, radishes, and collards. If you plan on growing vegetables in spring, such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflowers, and Brussel’s sprouts, start them as seed indoors first. When the spring weather warms, you can then plant carrots, potatoes, beets, and Swiss chard directly in the ground.

It’s also a good idea to plant early-blooming flowers near or in your spring garden. Some of the best plants that flower in spring are pansies, peonies, hardy geraniums, violas, and winter aconite. These beautiful flowers add color and visual interest while your vegetables are growing. Additionally, they will attract pollinators to boost your vegetable crop yield.

How to Prepare the Soil in Spring Garden

A healthy spring vegetable crop starts with the proper preparation. To prepare the soil for spring planting, use a shovel to dig up 8” to 10” (20 – 25 cm) of earth and turn it over early in the season. About three weeks before you plan on planting anything, turn over the soil again.

When you dig up and turn over the soil, it’s a good idea to add compost and aged manure to the ground. Doing so ensures that you prepare the soil by adding nutrients for healthy growth. Organic matter also retains moisture which is essential for growing vegetables.

Another step when preparing to plant vegetables in the spring is checking the pH levels. Use a pH meter to check if the soil is acidic, neutral, or alkaline. You can then amend the soil as necessary to get it ready for planting.

Spring Garden Layout

vegetable garden layout

Raised beds are one of the vegetable garden layout ideas that provide more accessible maintenance

It’s vital to think about the layout of your spring garden and to have a beneficial garden design. Most vegetables planted in a spring garden require full sun to grow. Therefore, it’s a good idea to think about a spring garden design that will take into consideration the height of vegetables, soil nutrient needs, and spacing between plantings.

Here are four common garden layout ideas to help you design your spring garden:

Planting in rows: The simplest garden layout is to plant the vegetables in rows. In the northern hemisphere, plant vegetables in straight rows in a north to south direction. To ensure the best sun exposure, grow taller vegetables at the north end of the rows and shorter crops at the southern end. If you live in the southern hemisphere, switch the directions.

Four square planting: A common garden design idea is to divide a vegetable patch into four squares and group vegetables together based on their feeding requirements. This type of vegetable garden layout allows you to rotate crops every year for healthier crops and fewer pest problems.

Square foot planting layout: This type of spring garden layout involves growing one kind of vegetable in each square-foot section. You will need to use spacing guidelines for each vegetable to calculate how many to plant.

Block layout in raised beds: The block-style spring garden layout helps you increase yield by eliminating many walkways. The raised vegetable beds should be 3 to 4 ft. (1 – 1.2 m) wide and as long as you need. Plant vegetables in short, horizontal rows.

The Best Plants for a Spring Garden

Let’s look in more detail at plants that are ideal for planting early in a spring garden. You will find the best root vegetables, leafy green vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, and vegetables from the onion family to plant in spring garden.

The Best Root Vegetables to Plant in Spring Garden

root vegetables to plant in spring

Here are some of the best root vegetables to plant in spring garden:

Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum)

Potatoes are an ideal root vegetable for planting in a spring garden. Plant potatoes in mid-March or three to four weeks before the last frost date. Plant seed potatoes with the “eyes” up and in rows about 6” (15 cm) deep. There should be about 12” (30 cm) between each planted seed potato.

When the potato shoots grow about 8” (20 cm) tall, put a small mound of straw or grass cuttings around them, so there are about 4” (10 cm) of shoots showing at the top. This helps to ensure a bumper potato crop. You can harvest baby potatoes about two weeks after the vines have flowered. Otherwise, wait until the vines die back—a sign that the potatoes are ready for harvesting.

Carrots (Dacus carota)

Sow carrot seeds directly in the loamy or sandy spring garden ground about three to five weeks before the last frost. You will need to thin the carrots as they grow to ensure there is at least 2” (5 cm) between each plant. Carrot rows should be 12” (30 cm) apart. Keep the soil moist and mulch around the plants to prevent the soil from drying out.

Carrots planted in the spring should be ready for harvesting in the summer.

Beets (Beta vulgaris)

Beets are easy to grow in a vegetable spring garden. Planting beets is ideal in early spring because they survive frost and grow quickly in full sun. You can plant beets from seeds directly in the ground in late spring.

Once the beets start growing, carefully thin the plants, so they are 2” (5 cm) apart. All you need to do is snip off the beet greens to thin them.

You can sow beet seeds every two to three weeks until mid-summer for a regular crop of these delicious root vegetables.

Radishes (Raphanus raphanistrum sativus)

Radishes are a spicy root vegetable that are surprisingly easy to grow in a spring garden. Sow radishes in early spring, about four weeks before the last frost. Like carrots and beets, it’s best to sow the vegetables directly in the ground. Keep soil evenly moist and use a thin layer of mulch to lock in moisture.

Some varieties of radishes are ready about three weeks after planting. Radishes are the ideal spring vegetable because they grow better in cooler weather. You can also plant radishes in late summer for fall harvesting.

The Best Leafy Vegetables for Planting in a Spring Garden

spring garden vegetables

Here are the best leafy green vegetables to plant in spring:

Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)

Lettuce is a popular cool-season crop that grows best in spring. You can start lettuce from seed indoors four to six weeks before the last frost. Or you can plant directly in the ground in spring when the soil temperature is at least 40°F (4°C).

As with most spring vegetables, plant lettuce in your garden where it gets full sun. It’s vital to prepare the ground well with compost or organic matter before planting.

Spinach (Spinacia oleracea)

Spinach is a cold-hardy leafy green vegetable that thrives when planted in early spring. It’s best to grow spinach from seed directly in the ground. Sow the spinach seeds as soon as it’s possible to work the soil. You should have about 12 seeds for every foot. Water spinach regularly and keep the soil moist with mulching.

Spinach is also one of the vegetables you can grow in winter.

Swiss Chard (Beta vulgaris var. cicla)

Also called chard, this vegetable is ideal for planting in spring. The best time to plant the leafy vegetable is three weeks before the last frost date for your area. It’s best to sow the seeds directly in fertile soil up to 1” (2.5 cm) deep and 2” to 6” (5 – 15 cm) apart. As the seedlings grow to about 3” (7.5 cm) tall, you may have to thin them.

When the leafy vegetables grow to about 12” (30 cm) tall, you can start to harvest the outer leaves and let the smaller inner leaves grow. This way, you can enjoy the nutritious vegetables leaves for most of the season.

The Best Cruciferous Vegetables for Planting in a Spring Garden

best vegetables to plant in spring

Cruciferous vegetables are vegetables in the family Brassicaceae. They include a wide range of nutritious vegetables that grow well in cold temperatures. Here are the best cruciferous vegetables to plant in spring garden:

Cabbage (Brassica oleracea)

Cabbage can be tricky to grow for novice gardeners. However, cold spring or fall temperatures are vital to get the best from this crop.

For planting in a spring garden, start seeds indoors about eight weeks before the last spring frost. Two weeks before the last frost date, transfer the seedlings outdoors to acclimatize them for a week. Then transfer the cabbage seedlings to your garden, planting them 12” to 24” (30 – 60 cm) apart.

Cabbage is a heavy feeder and requires nitrogen-rich fertilization. Cabbage grows best in soil temperatures between 60°F and 65°F (15°C – 18°C).

Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica)

Broccoli is a cool-season plant in the cabbage family and grows best in colder weather. To grow broccoli as a spring vegetable, start seeds indoors eight weeks before the last frost date. Alternatively, you can plant broccoli in the ground outdoors three weeks before the last frost. Broccoli should be planted in the ground about 12” to 20” (30 – 50 cm) apart.

To promote healthy growth, keep the vegetables well-watered and mulch around the plants to keep the soil cool.

Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis)

Cauliflower is an annual cold-season plant that has tightly bunched florets like broccoli. Cauliflower grows best in spring because it thrives in temperatures between 60°F and 65°F (15°C – 18°C).

To grow cauliflower in a spring garden, start from seed indoors five weeks before the last frost date. Then, a week or two later, transplant to your spring garden vegetable patch and plant 24” (60 cm) apart. If necessary, protect from frost.

Kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala)

Kale is another cruciferous plant that you can plant in spring. Healthy kale leaves taste better if the plant matures in cold weather.

Plant kale seeds directly in your garden as soon as the soil is workable in spring, ensuring the vegetables get at least six hours of sunlight daily. If necessary, cover tender kale plants at night to protect them from frost. Water kale regularly to keep the ground moist. Spring kale should be ready for harvesting in early summer.

The Best Allium Vegetables to Plant in a Spring Garden

what vegetables to plant in spring

Here are the best allium vegetables to plant in spring:

Onions (Allium cepa)

Onions are hardy vegetables in the genus Allium. You can plant onions in a spring garden in raised beds. The best way to grow onions in spring is to plant small onion bulbs in the ground when the risk of frost has passed. If you start onions from seed, start them indoors in late January or February to prepare them for planting in March or April.

Leeks (Allium ampeloprasum)

Leeks are ideal vegetables to plant in the spring because they survive light frosts even as tender plants.

It would be best if you sowed leek seeds indoors in winter about 12 weeks before the last frost date. Before transferring them to your vegetable patch, it’s a good idea to acclimatize the tender plants. You do this by placing them outside for more extended periods over a week or two. You can then plant leeks in your garden around the time of your last spring frost.

Spring Onions (Scallions)

Scallions grow well when planted in spring gardens. It would be best if you started the seeds indoors eight to ten weeks before that last frost. After acclimatizing the seedlings, plant in the garden in early spring after any frost risk has passed. Choose a sunny location and plant in well-draining fertile soil.

Other Vegetables for Sowing in Spring Garden

spring garden plants

Here are some other types of vegetables that are ideal for planting in spring:

Peas (Pisum sativum)

Peas are some of the first crops that you can plant outdoors in the spring. Peas are tasty, hardy vegetables that are easy to grow and will even withstand some snow. The best time to plant peas is between late February and early April. Plant the spring vegetables in a sunny location and organically-rich soil while the soil is still cool.

Green Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)

You can plant green beans in the spring when there is no longer any risk of frost. You should wait until the soil is at least 48°F (9°) and plant the seeds directly in the garden. Use poles or a trellis to support the growing vines. When growing beans in a spring garden, it’s good to remember that they don’t require extra nitrogen fertilizer. Also, be careful when weeding, as beans have shallow roots.

Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)

Asparagus is one of the best perennial vegetables to grow in spring. The ideal time to plant asparagus crowns is as early as possible in spring when the soil is workable.

Plant the spring vegetable in well-draining soil that gets plenty of sunshine. It’s best to avoid harvesting asparagus during the first two to three years. Once established, asparagus stems will emerge every spring when the soil temperature warms over 50°F (10°C).

Celery (Apium graveolens)

It’s best to plant celery in early spring for a summer harvest. This cool-weather vegetable needs around 16 weeks of cool weather to mature.

You can start growing celery indoors by sowing seeds ten to twelve weeks before the last spring frost date. You can transfer celery seedlings outdoors when soil temperatures are at least 50°F (10°). When growing in the ground, it’s essential to water celery regularly. Celery has a long growing season and is ready for harvesting in summer.

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