5 Myths and Truths About Early Spring Gardening (Plus 28 Crops to Try This Spring!)
If I asked you to picture yourself growing a food garden, what would you see?
If you see yourself in a beautiful food jungle with fat tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant and peppers, you are not alone! Almost every gardener loves growing these. Come May, the garden centers are full of hopeful gardeners picking up seedlings rich with promise of fruitful harvests: beefsteak tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, juicy watermelon, and more zucchini than you can give away. And let's be honest....those are indeed very satisfying to grow. Nothing is more exciting than the promise of a rainbow of color to be harvested in July, August and September.
But the most exciting color to see in springtime, when the snow melts and the early crocuses, hyacinths and tulips sprout from the ground? Green. And we can have it in the garden too. Lime green lettuce. Dark green tatsoi and spinach. Verdant shades of green in pea plants, scallions, chives, chervil and arugula.
For some reason, planting a springtime garden is not nearly as popular as planting a summer garden. And yet it can be just as satisfying, and very exciting! So today, I'm here to bust some myths about growing spring vegetables. Here are five myths about early spring gardening, and their corresponding truths.
MYTH #1: The garden season starts around Memorial Day when we plant tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and zucchini.
FACT: There are over 25 different vegetables that you can plant well before grilling season begins! In fact, some vegetables grow even better in the springtime before the weather heats up. Once the temperatures climb, peas plants will dry out and die. Fresh, crunchy peas straight from the garden are a spring time treat not to be missed. Spring is also a great time to grow a variety of fresh salad greens and herbs, as well as plant onions, potatoes and leeks for summer and fall harvest. Even if you have a small space and want to save room to grow your prized tomatoes, many spring crops have short growing seasons and can be harvested and cleared out when the tomatoes go in.
MYTH #2: Spring gardening is only for experienced gardeners.
FACT: Many spring vegetables are some of the easiest and fastest vegetables to grow, making them ideal for beginning gardeners and children. Other than watering and weed control, most spring crops are very low maintenance and many are ready to harvest in just a few short weeks. Early spring is a great time for gardeners of all levels to get their hands dirty.
MYTH #3: If I'm not really into greens from the grocery store, I shouldn’t bother growing them in my garden.
FACT: Most people find that freshly harvested garden greens taste nothing like the ones from the store. If you wish you liked greens more, growing them in the garden is an excellent way to maximize enjoyment. Many people like to munch them straight from the garden, rabbit style.
MYTH #4: Kids won’t eat greens, so we shouldn’t bother growing them in my school or home garden.
FACT: Spring vegetables present many opportunities for snacking in the garden, and some kids will even snack on strongly flavored leaves such as fresh chives or mint! Many kids will try greens at school if they see other kids trying them too. Children love to try vegetables they have grown themselves. Fresh greens present lesson opportunities including botany, nutrition, and recipe creation.
If school is not in session during the summer, planting springtime vegetables that are ready for harvest before the end of the school year can be a great way to teach children about the full circle of gardening, from seed to harvest.
MYTH #5: You need a greenhouse or specialized equipment to plant vegetables in the early spring.
FACT: Almost all spring vegetables can be planted directly into your garden from seeds, making them very accessible and affordable crops to grow. While many experienced gardeners do enjoy using specialized season extension equipment such as cold frames and low tunnels, they are not necessary to grow within the normal spring growing season for your zone. For container gardeners, many springtime vegetables have shallow roots and therefore can be grown in smaller containers than summer vegetables.
Have I piqued your interest in spring gardening? I hope so! Here is a list of vegetables you can grow when the days are warming up but the nights are still frosty:
28 Crops to Grow in Your Springtime Garden
Lettuce Mix (or Mesclun Mix)
Do you plant vegetables in the springtime? Which are your favorites to grow?
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