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The Spring Harvest

the vegetable gardener can reap the rewards of frost-tolerant spring vegetables—peas, broccoli, kale, arugula, cabbage, spinach, carrots, radishes, scallions, cilantro, and lettuce, to name a few—before even thinking about planting heat-loving crops like tomatoes or peppers. The type of vegetables that prefer to grow in the spring are similar to those that thrive in the fall. These crops languish in the heat of our summers, usually going to flower and seed, or developing an unpleasant taste or texture once the weather warms. They don’t mind a little chill at night, which means they can be planted in the garden even earlier than one might think … and will be ready to harvest by the time you’re planting your summer crops. The early bird gets the first harvest when it comes to spring planting.

Some of the easiest of all spring vegetables, lettuce and other leafy greens grow quickly from seed and can be harvested in as little as 45 to 50 days. An early April sowing should give you fresh greens by mid-May. Lettuce seeds are small and one tip for success is covering the seed with store-bought potting soil instead of heavy garden soil. Potting soil holds moisture and is lighter in weight, making it easy for tiny seedlings to break through.

Nothing is sweeter than a homegrown carrot. Carrots can sometimes be a challenge to grow in clay soils, but if you dig deep and add lots of soil conditioner and compost, you'll get beautiful results. A fun trick is to plant your carrots and radishes together in the same row. You'll pull the radishes first and leave room for the carrots to continue growing, getting double use from the space! Carrots and radishes are great for growing in raised garden beds because the deep soil is perfect for their long roots.

Snow peas, shell peas, and sugar pod (also called “sugar snap”) peas are surprisingly cold hardy. They can be planted from late March to early April and will even tolerate a few degrees of frost. Sugar pod types (perfect for use in stir-fries and fresh salads) should be harvested first, with others following a few weeks after.

Onions, potatoes, cabbage, brocolli , cauliflower and brussell sprouts should also be included in this grouping. Keep in mind that your specific geographical region in North America has a big impact on start dates, so consider these suggestions as a generality.

Cheers, and have a great weekend...don't be afraid to get a little dirt on your hands!

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