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What to Grow in an Early Spring Garden

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Spring garden season is almost here, and what better way to usher in the garden season than with some cool weather loving crops. For those of you who live in areas where gardening year round isn’t an option, then early spring is a great time to get your hands dirty with vegetables that don’t mind cooler nights.

For my year-round deep south gardeners, I’m looking at you Florida and Texas, you can already have your tomatoes in the ground in some areas. So here are some suggestions for what to grow in an early spring garden!

early spring garden

I have to work with what I’ve got, and where I live the nights can be cool, and the danger of frost isn’t over yet. In fact, last year our last frost was on March 25th, and it got down to 27 degrees.

My poor fig tree couldn’t handle it, even with being covered. So early spring gardens should be full of veggies that can stand up to the cooler temps that those March evenings can bring. And for those in the far north, you may still have snow on the ground, so consider a DIY cold frame to start early spring vegetables.

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Early Spring Garden Veggies

There is a surprising number of things you can grow in an early spring garden. And many of these veggies can go right on producing into the summer, especially if you give them a little shade during those much warmer days.

So consider planting taller plants, such as tomatoes or bean teepees, in late spring beside your early spring vegetables to keep them cool and less likely to burn up in the hot summer sun.

Spring Garden Favorites

Lettuce: All types! You really can’t go wrong here. Lettuces enjoy cooler weather, and a lovely salad garden is perfect for harvesting weekly and enjoying fresh salad greens. Some favorite varieties include:

  • romaine
  • arugula (I consider this a lettuce)
  • mixed lettuces
  • buttercrunch
  • mesclun
  • Have difficulty growing lettuce? Gardenary, a fantastic garden resource, actually offers an online course called Salad School where she teaches you how to grow salad well, so you can have fresh salad greens year round! The course goes into everything from seeds to soil to harvest and storage.
early spring garden

Beets: I have a love/hate relationship with beets. I love to eat them, but I usually plant them too late and they grow poorly for me. I’ve been reading up on beet care this winter, and I will succeed this year!

They also enjoy the cooler weather, and I can truly attest to the fact that they do not do well in the middle of summer. Lesson learned. And since you can eat both the root and the greens, they work with a variety of meals! (Double chocolate beet muffins, anyone?)

early spring garden

Greens: While greens are known for their winter longevity, early spring crops can still be grown. The young tender leaves that come first are delicious, and many greens are chock full of iron. I also have a fantastic recipe for Balsamic Bacon Collards, because who doesn’t love a little bacon with your healthy greens?

early spring garden

Onions: Early spring is a great time to plant onions, especially if you like to harvest them early to use in recipes. I’m going with seed this year instead of sets, as I did last year, and I had much more success.

Growing your own onions is easy, and you’ll be amazed at how much better they taste than what you’re buying at the grocery store. 

early spring garden

Brassicas– No, we’re not growing metals here, but the brassicas family, including broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower, do particularly well in the early spring weather. They enjoy the cooler temperatures with less intense sunlight, which also makes them a fall favorite.

We’ve been eating a lot more cauliflower lately (though I haven’t done the pizza crust yet, have you?), so I’m going to try growing them this spring. 

early spring garden

Potatoes– Early spring is the perfect time to start those seed potatoes. All varieties of yellow, white, or red potatoes should be started in early spring, but hold back on those sweet potatoes until late summer. They should be harvested come the fall. (Check out my complete guide to growing potatoes at home.)

Peas and Beans– An absolute favorite for my kids are all varieties of peas and beans. While not all types should be started in early spring, many can, so be sure to check the seed package for specific growing information.

Sugar snap peas, Scarlet Runner Beans, and Blue Lake are a few we like to grow here. And if you build bean teepees for them, then you can still grow your lettuces beneath and save valuable garden space! 

Harvesting an Early Spring Garden

Once your vegetables are ready to be harvested, be sure to get them up and out. By the time many of your early spring vegetables are ready, you can go ahead and replace them with summer favorites. Think tomatoes, peppers, okra, and all of those delicious summer favorites!

Our early spring garden is actually going in today, so I’d love to know what you enjoy planting in the early spring! I’ll give you some updates on my success with the beets this spring. I may have to nurture them like a newborn, but they will grow! Have a great week and happy gardening!

Seasonal Garden Guides

Wondering what to grow in your vegetable garden in each season of the year? Use these helpful planting guides to know what you can grow in your raised bed, container, or in-ground garden year round!

Ginger L Rohde

Sunday 3rd of March 2019

Hi, I am also in Wisconsin and it is sooo cold here. I read the garden mails to get my mind off what is going on outside. Lol. I so want SPRING. Thank you for all your information on vergies and flowers it is a great help.


Sunday 3rd of March 2019

You're very welcome, Ginger! I'm hoping for an early spring for you all up there. Stay warm and keep garden dreaming!

Sarah Roberts (@spumoni011112)

Tuesday 29th of January 2019

Hi Courtney, I have to laugh when you say you are putting in your "spring" garden today. And that you can get frost still in March. Here where we are in Wisconsin, we can get a frost till the end of May and one year it was actually after that. We don't even think of planting till after memorial day. Although I do start plants in the house earlier. Thanks for all the information on not only garden veggies, but also flowers. We just got dumped on with 10 inches of snow yesterday, so I really have to use my imagination to picture my Garden for this year. Ms. Sarah


Tuesday 29th of January 2019

Hi Sarah! I think often of my northern readers when I write about planting our spring garden. This post was from last year, so we haven't started quite yet, but I'm definitely in the planning stages. I hope you're staying warm in all that snow; I just saw how cold it's been in Wisconsin this winter... brrr. :)

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