The weather is still cool. The wind still bites. The air may even still threaten snow and you haven’t passed your last frost date. But you’re just itching to get outside and get your hands in the dirt! But you are wondering more than anything else what vegetables to plant in early spring!
The winter’s been long and sunshine and green will do your heart and soul so much good.
The list below will give you a great selection of vegetables to get in the dirt as soon as possible. They are the best vegetables to plant in early spring.
I live in zone 3, so my last frost date is June 2. I try to get started planting my warmer crops on the weekend of Memorial Day but the veggies below can be planted before that date because they love the cool spring weather and a lot of them will bolt or not fare as well as the weather heats up.
Leafy Vegetables That Grow Well in Early Spring
Lettuce loves the cool weather. It will bolt when it warms up. It grows quickly and provides an easy nutritious meal, especially paired with the other leafy vegetables mentioned below.
Plant the seeds directly into the soil and keep the soil moist. They will sprout pretty quickly and grow rapidly. It’s fun to have a quick turnaround when growing food and lettuce will give you just that! And for many varieties, if you pick a few leaves off of each plant, they will continue to grow more leaves, extending the harvest for each plant.
And there are also many varieties you can choose from. Planting a mixture of seeds will give you a garden salad that anyone would envy!
Spinach will also do really well in the cooler months. Plant several plantings throughout the early spring and fall to keep getting a good harvest for as long as possible. But spinach will bolt when the weather turns warm.
Plant the seeds directly in the soil, keep moist and watch it grow! It will grow fast!
There are also several varieties of spinach as well, so you can experiment with your favorite one and get a great crop in the early spring!
Swiss chard is a delightful plant that is colorful, tasty in a salad (or cooked) and grows quickly. And it does a lot better in the warmer summer months as well.
Plant the seeds directly in the soil. The seeds are an odd shape and almost look like a beet seed. Space them out so they have room to grow with their large leaves.
Plant a variety of colors and you will have a rainbow in your garden!
Root Vegetables that are Excellent Options to Plant in Early Spring
Radishes grow so quickly that they make an excellent row marker for the slower sprouting vegetables like carrots. They sprout quickly, grow quickly and are a yummy treat to eat straight out of the garden or in a salad.
They have a bite to them but are an excellent choice to add to the early spring garden!
Turnips are a great veggie, that grows easily and can be eaten roasted, mashed and added to delicious soups. Plant the seeds directly in the ground and they will do the rest!
The leaves can be eaten when they are young and tender as well.
A lot like turnips, this root vegetable can be eaten like a turnip and cared for in much the same way. They can be planted in early spring just like the other vegetables mentioned here!
Beets are one of my personal garden favorites. The green tops can be picked and eaten when they are young and tender and the roots can be pulled when they are 3-4 inches around. Cooked and canned, they are delicious!
After planting, they will sprout in 10 days and will be ready to be eaten in about 10 weeks. Keep the ground evenly wet as they are growing. They can be planted about a month before the last frost date in your area.
And carrots are my absolute favorite root vegetable! Nothing beats a homegrown carrot, not even a beet!
As mentioned previously, when you plant the carrot seeds, plant radishes every 3-4 inches to mark the row. Plant directly into the soil, cover very, very lightly and water in. Placing a board over the row until they sprout will keep the ground moist and the seeds safe from birds. Keep checking under the board for sprouts but it can take 14 or so days for them to sprout. Once they have sprouted remove the board.
You can plant carrots 2-3 weeks before the last frost date.
Perennial Vegetables that Grow in Early Spring
I start asparagus inside each spring and keep adding to my asparagus corner every year. And every year we get more and more meals as they grow and get established. If properly taken care of, asparagus can be planted once and will show up every spring thereafter. That is the beauty of perennials.
Asparagus will show up in early spring all on its own! And when picked at the proper time, they are tender, sweet and delicious!
Like asparagus, rhubarb can be planted once and will continue to get a larger and better harvest each year.
Once established, this plant will begin to grow in the spring and provide you with a tart vegetable that makes a delicious treat!
Brassicas: Vegetables That Grow in Early Spring
About 1.5 to 2 months before my last frost date, I start all of my brassicas inside. This gives them a good start and allows them to be transplanted and then grown outside during the coolest part of the spring.
Once the seed has been planted they sprout rather quickly (week or less) and then grow rather fast.
You can harden off and plant your cabbage outside 3-4 weeks before your last frost date.
Homegrown broccoli is delicious and even better is that you know that you didn’t douse them with chemicals. There are tricks to keeping them cabbage worm free, but if you can get that mastered, then you’ll have a great vegetable that will grow quickly and in the cool of spring.
You can harden off and plant your broccoli outside 3-4 weeks before your last frost date.
Cauliflower may be slightly harder to grow than broccoli and cabbage because they are more sensitive to weather changes. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plant them!
Start them inside 8 weeks before the last frost date and handle them like you do your broccoli. You can harden off and plant your cauliflower outside 3-4 weeks before your last frost date.
Our growing season in Montana is about 3 months and it takes about 3 months to harvest brussel sprouts. They really do like the cool weather and in warmer climates, they will love to go through your fall, cooler months. If they do go through some really hot temperatures, they may open up and end up not being edible.
I start my brussel sprouts inside with my broccoli and cauliflower and transplant them outside in the same way before the last frost date. If all goes well, I can harvest them before the really hot days of August.
Peas are a must in any garden. But they do want to be planted in cool temperatures. They don’t want to freeze but they really don’t like hot weather. It’s best to get them in the ground 4 or so weeks before the last frost date.
But when your peas, whether shelling, snow or snap peas are happy and growing they will provide a large and delicious harvest for you and your family.
Getting your vegetables you planted in early spring to harvest.
Keeping your garden weed-free by mulching and watering correctly is essential. I share in this article WHY your garden has weeds: Why Does My Garden Have Weeds? It’s super important to understand. You can’t win the war if you don’t understand why it’s happening.
And mulching is also a key ingredient as well. I share why you should mulch and what you can use here: The Importance of Mulching Your Garden. And lastly, this is just as important to understand: When to Water Your Garden.
I think the best part about a garden is that when you don’t want to make lunch for your family you can just head out to the garden and pick any of these vegetables just mentioned and make a grand meal out of it! These vegetables to plant in early spring will be a big hit!
You can read more here: Early Growing Plants