Early spring is the perfect time to begin planting some crops that thrive in cooler temperatures and can even tolerate light frosts. This allows me to make the most of the growing season and enjoy fresh, homegrown produce even sooner.
In my experience, quite a few vegetables are ideal for early spring planting. I’ve narrowed down my top five early spring crops that I think all gardeners should consider starting right now. These vegetables are not only delicious and healthy, but they also offer a fantastic opportunity for novice and experienced gardeners to get a jump-start on the gardening season.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into my top five early spring crops that you can begin planting today. I believe these plants will give you the satisfaction of growing your garden and thriving earlier in the year, providing you with abundant fresh and nutritious produce to enjoy.
Radish is a quick-growing crop that can be started early in the year. You can sow them outdoors from February onwards. I like to sow in modules and transplant them outside – just to give them a little helping hand.
Another quick-growing crop that is incredibly easy to grow from seed. Again you can sow either outdoors or in.
If sowing outdoors, then wait until April to sow. They are commonly sown into a shallow drill (a small trench) around 1cm deep. When seedlings appear thin the weakest out, leaving the plants 10-15cm apart.
You can also sow them in modules undercover and transplant them out. By doing this, you can start them a couple of weeks earlier.
3. Salad Leaves
Salad leaves, such as the salad bowl green below, can be sown outside after your last frost. As these are a cut-and-come-again salad, your first harvest will be ready in only a few weeks.
You can sow some every few weeks to give you a continuous supply of fresh salad leaves.
If we are still before the last frost date in your area, sow them under cover and transplant them outside in a few weeks. Alternatively, I like to grow them in my greenhouse in spring before I plant up my warmer weather-loving plants like tomatoes and cucumbers.
Spinach is a tough cookie and can be sown outdoors from mid-spring, sow in shallow drills and then thin to 10-15cm apart. You can even save the thinned leaves and use them in a salad mix.
Your spinach leaves will be ready to harvest in roughly six weeks. For an earlier crop, you can grow them in a greenhouse or polytunnel.
Kale is really hardy and can be sown as soon as the ground has thawed after winter. Sow in shallow drills and then thin to roughly 10cm apart.
Leaves should be ready to start cutting in 6-8 weeks.
Caring for Your Early Spring Crops
Once I’ve selected and planted my early spring crops, it’s important to know how to care for them in order to have a successful harvest.
Firstly, it’s crucial to ensure the soil is well-prepared before planting. I like to add compost to improve soil structure and provide necessary nutrients. Your soil is often tired in early spring after a productive year last time around. So give it a quick spruce up with compost mulch!
You can also protect your early crops from late frosts using a range of methods. These could be cloches, fleece or even plastic tubs. Learn more here.
By following these tips and giving my early spring crops the proper care, I can enjoy a bountiful and healthy harvest.