Boys and Girls grab your shovels and follow me to the garden!!!!!
Squeak! Squeal! Boo Yah!
It’s time to start gardening!
I am so happy it is spring! I really don’t think there is a better time for gardening. I’m telling you, this is the best time to get in the dirt.
WHY Spring Gardens are the BEST:
Winter is over and we are all itching to get outdoors! I have more energy and general enthusiasm in spring than any other time of year. I can’t really explain why, but in spring I am Wonder Woman.
If I don’t plant something in the bare soil the weeds will conquer.
Spring crops are SO EASY TO GROW.
The bugs, snails, insects and other annoying crop destroyers haven’t shown up yet (usually).
The air is cool, fresh and glorious. This means no heat, humidity, fungus or disease. Yay!
Spring crops are super healthy for you (think lots of green things).
The stars have all aligned and everything is in your favor in the spring garden.
If you don’t have a green thumb,
If you kill everything you try to grow,
If you hate your garden because of past failures,
If you gave up on gardening…..
You should plant a spring garden!
You are far more likely to succeed. Spring crops are the easiest to grow. Many of these “cool” season crops can also be grown in fall but it is trickier.
Why growing “cool” crops in fall is harder:
Planting in August is horrid. Around here I’d rather be in a pool than in my garden.
Getting cool season crops to cooperate when it’s still 100 degrees out is difficult (germination, water, etc)
And then there’s the problem with winter. You just never know when the snow will hit & take your garden down.
So – Spring wins!
No, you won’t be eating any tomatoes, zucchini or peppers out of your spring garden, but you’ll have plenty to eat.
Let’s get planting!
12 Great Spring Crops You Can Plant Now:
#1 Spring Garden Crop: Kale
This stuff is indestructible. It is easy to grow. It’s basically a weed packed with unbelievable nutritional powers. Kale is amazing. Direct sowing is a cinch in spring. Grab your packet of seeds & pick a spot.
You can plant kale in rows, but I usually just fill a bed with kale seeds. First, I use a hoe or garden fork or metal rake & rough up the soil a bit. Remove any weeds. Then sprinkle a handful of kale seeds around over the soil. Last, run your hand over the dirt to get the seeds to settle in place. All you have to do is wait for rain! If you live in a very dry area & there’s no rain in the near forecast – give them some water.
#2 Spring Garden Crop: Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower
Not only are these winners, they keep for months in the refrigerator. I usually purchase my Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage or Cauliflower as seedlings. Sometimes I start my own seedlings indoors, but it’s a little late for that. 🙂
These are easy to plant and grow like troopers well into warmer months.
The biggest problem with growing anything in the cucurbit family is the dang blasted cabbage worms. There are several solutions:
Use row covers.
Buy some queen sized panty hoes & make them all look like bank robbers. I know it’s funny – but it can help keep those stupid yellow butterflies (adult cabbage worms) from pooping eggs all over your vegetables.
#3 Spring Garden Crop: Sugar Snap Peas or English Peas
Peas are so easy to grow! They are sweet and delicious! Sugar Snap Peas are the dessert of the garden. Unless you happen to like sweet potatoes (gag). If you eat orange mush, you probably would put it in the dessert department too. I don’t eat orange mush, so Sugar Snap Peas are my go-to for fresh-picked, juicy sweetness.
If you end up with more than you can eat. You can store them in the refrigerator in zip-top bags for a couple weeks. They also freeze easily for winter stir fry.
Growing potatoes is an amazing experience. I haven’t met a child who doesn’t love to dig potatoes. It’s like digging up buried treasure. Spring is the absolute best time for planting potatoes. You can plant them later, but it won’t yield the same abundant crop.
The glorious thing about growing potatoes in spring is that you will be able to begin harvesting them in early summer.. and then in mid summer… and then in late summer… and then at the end of the summer when school starts up you can dig up the remainder of your crop and store them to eat all winter.
My HUGE advice for growing potatoes is to grow 4 times more than you think you’ll need. I planted 2 beds with potatoes and we ate them all before August. I had NONE to store for winter. This is how I got started growing sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes love heat, summer and misery and they are prolific. Unfortunately. So, I ate sweet potatoes all winter instead of Irish Cobblers.
I’ve never grown parsley, but you can bet I’m going to this spring! Parsley was always an “optional” crop in my book. It made things look pretty, but that’s not what I’m about, so I’m not going to waste my time, garden space or efforts growing garnish…..
THEN I leaned how good parsley is for you!!! Dude, shocking. Parsley contains over 80 nutrients! Crazy. It’s not just pretty – it’s a super food. And it’s a weed. So it’s easy to grow.
AND… I got a juicer for Christmas. You can bet I’m gonna plant a bunch of parsley and I’m gonna drink it. Why I drink my veggies here.
#6 Spring Garden Crop: Cilantro
Many people are surprised to find out that cilantro is a cool season crop. It flourishes in spring and fall. It will shrivel and die in the heat of summer (exactly when you want some cilantro to go in your homemade salsa). How to make fabulous salsa here.
I have been known to dig up my cilantro and stick it in a pot before it bolts and seeds and dies.
This past January when the world was cold and frosty, my cilantro plants were bursting with life and providing me with the most delicious, fresh topping for my dinners. Really…. when it is 10 degrees outside your cilantro will be growing, thriving and producing like never before.
This is the time for cilantro.
#7 Spring Garden Crop: Dill
Dill is another herb that can’t stand the heat. Well, it’s not as much of a wimp as cilantro, but dill does much better in milder temperatures. Many people can keep dill around all summer by planting it in the shade.
#8 Spring Garden Crop: Spinach
Good luck with this one. Sorry, I don’t mean to be a downer…. I’m a realist. Spinach is high maintenance. If you can’t see to it that your spinach babies have the perfect environment for germination, it won’t grow. On the other hand, if you want to increase your odds for success – buy some seedlings.
Spinach is one of my favorite foods ever. Smooth, creamy, healthy. I like it in salads. I like it as a creamy side dish. I even like it with tortilla chips. Yes- spinach dip… yum!
Growing beets is fun. My youngest daughter LOVES to grow them. They are kind of like giant radishes. Buy they don’t taste like radishes. They taste like carrots. Purple carrots.
Beet seeds germinate fast. They get huge. If you pickle them like me, they will taste like bread & butter pickles (how I do it here). Oooh Baby. So yummy…. and so good for you.
Beets are another food you should grow and eat because they are so healthy. Just like parsley – so packed with nutrition. Beets are good for your bones, liver, kidneys and pancreas. They are anti-cancer, anti-inflammation, they fight high blood pressure, they boost stamina and they even promote detoxification. source
The #1 reason I grow beets is because I know how dang healthy they are and I can RARELY find them for sale at a supermarket. Really, why don’t stores sell beets? I actually know the answer, but that’s another post. 🙂
Truly, you can plant these any time you want. I have not yet met a radish seed who did not become a radish. Hot, cold, wet, dry, you just can’t stop a radish seed from becoming a radish in the state of Kentucky. They are crunchy, sweet, spicy, juicy and wonderful. I like them best straight from the garden. I do roast them, fry them and bake them – but nothing beats a fresh radish.
I must say that I don’t ever wait until the suggested date to throw out some lettuce seeds. I never really stop growing lettuce. It may stop germinating. It may start bolting. But I never stop sowing. When there is an empty bed, or an empty row, or an empty corner – I love to toss in some lettuce seeds. I buy lettuce seeds by the bagful so I can sow as often and as plentiful as I want.
I have no idea why anyone would grow turnips….. oh wait, yes I do: TURNIP GREENS!
Turnips are forgiving and easy and huge and everything you can expect from a horrible, tasting root. Sorry. Thanks to my 101 days of growing my own food I have learned that turnips couldn’t taste worse. I have also learned that turnips grow into giant bowling balls in a remarkably short amount of time. I have more turnips in storage from my spring planting than I ever want to eat in my lifetime. BUT the greens are magically delicious. So, I may grow them again….. the pigs can have the turnips. I’ll eat the greens.
Yes, If I am out of turnip greens, mustard greens will do. Also yummy.
#13 Spring Garden Crop: Onions
I know I said 12, but I forgot about the onions. The glorious, wonderful onions.
Onions are a cinch to grow and really the only thing there is to complain about is that there isn’t much “top” to the plant to create ground cover. Bare ground means one things to us avid gardeners – weeds. This can be solved with a layer of straw or leaves or any organic matter that will provide ground cover around your onion tops so the weeds won’t germinate.