Planting a spring garden is fun and can give you a big head start this year growing nutritious food at home. If the weather is giving you a serious case of spring fever, fear not, the time to start working in the garden is right now! March is the perfect month of the year to prepare your garden for the season ahead and even plant an early spring garden. Read on to see what you can plant in the spring and how to prep and care for a spring garden.
How to Prepare Your Garden for Planting In the Spring
Take advantage of the nice days of spring (or at least, the days without snow, depending on where you live) to start preparing your garden area for an early spring garden. Once the frost has lifted you can start preparing your garden beds. Over winter your soil tends to get compacted so start by using a tiller or shovel to work the soil.
Any garden material that had a chance to compost over the winter, such as fall leaves, should be worked into the soil, or store-bought compost if you don’t have any on hand. Remember, a good rule of thumb is two inches of organic matter worked into six inches of soil. With that amount of organic matter in the soil your plants will be able to get air, water and nutrients more efficiently to the roots.
Don’t forget to take this time to prep your garden tools. If you maintain your garden tools they will last longer, stay sharper and work better which will save you money and prevent the spread of disease through your plants. Dirty tools can introduce bacteria and fungi into fresh pruning wounds, so use hot water, detergent and a scourer to give your garden tools a deep clean. Sharpen your tools and add a little oil or WD40 on any hinges.
If you don’t yet have a dedicated compost area or compost bin, now is a great time to get one going before the planting season is in full swing. You can purchase a ready-made compost bin or build one in the spring so you can add your grass clippings and garden waste and leaves into your bin all season long.
Finally, if you were hoping to expand your garden this year, now is a great time to put those plans in place! You’ll be ready for the first day of planting your garden with new raised garden beds, a standing herb garden or any new pots for a container garden all ready to go.
What are Vegetables Will Grow in the Spring?
So, you’ve done all the prep work, now what can you actually plant in the early springtime? You can plant hardy vegetables this time of year. Hardy vegetables are the kind that can tolerate hard frosts (temperatures from 25-28 degrees F). The hardiest of the vegetables include kale, spinach and collards and they can tolerate temperatures into the high teens. These types of vegetables can taste better when they mature in cool weather so plant them again in the late summer for a fall garden and don’t fret if you have an extra cool spring.
Leafy Vegetables to Plant in Spring
This group of hardy leafy green vegetables are called the “cole crops,” plants that belong to the mustard family and are all descendants of wild cabbage. The word “cole” is from the Latin word that means stem. All of these types of vegetables can be sown as seeds directly into the soil in the early spring.
This family includes:
These vegetables can be planted as early as Valentine’s Day in some areas (check your zone for exact planting times) after the snow has melted.
Root Vegetables to Plant in Spring
This second group should be planted in your garden from seed 2-3 weeks after the first, one or two weeks into March. Don’t worry, if you didn’t plant the cole crop group earlier you can put both in the ground in March. These vegetables include:
- Swiss Chard
How To Take Care of Your Spring Garden
The beauty of direct-sown vegetables is that in just a week or two you’ll see a little sprout poking up from the ground. Half the fun is checking the garden each day for new little sprouts bravely working their way up from the seed. Make sure you direct-sow your seeds in straight rows, preferably with a row marker, this way you’ll remember what you planted and you’ll know that anything coming up outside your row is a weed that can be picked.
Some spring vegetables such as radishes can mature to eating size in just three to four weeks so a spring garden can be extremely rewarding in a short amount of time.
Visit your garden daily to check for weeds and any bug issues that need to be addressed right away, watering regularly especially as the spring days turn warmer.
Start Sowing Seeds Indoors for Your Summer Garden
Don’t forget, while you’re watching your spring garden grow you can also be prepping seedlings indoors for the start of the summer garden season. Start your summer plants indoors about 6 weeks before the outdoor summer planting season begins in your zone.
Vegetables to start as seeds indoors for a summer garden include:
- Pole beans
You can follow our Free Guide on Sprouting Seeds for all the details on successfully starting seeds indoors.