Swansons Nursery provides suggestions for vegetables to plant this Spring

by | Apr 8, 2022

By Aimee Damman, co-owner of Swansons Nursery

One of the first activities I want to do outside in early spring is to plant my early spring vegetable garden. There’s nothing like the smooth, clean surface of prepped garden beds, the soil still pristine and just waiting to nurture rows of bright green spring vegetables, carefully planted in perfect rows. It’s like a fresh school notebook – full of promise.

But what to plant? Here are a few of my favorite vegetables to plant in spring, with tips on when and how to plant them. I generally recommend using an organic vegetable fertilizer, either mixed into the soil before planting or at planting time. Follow the instructions on the package for the amount to use.

PEAS

Snap-Peas.jpg

What’s better than fresh sugar snap peas eaten straight off the vine? I also love adding freshly shelled peas to salads. Peas are one of the earliest vegetables I plant and I just can’t wait to see the delicate tendrils twirl around a trellis as they grow.

WHEN TO PLANT PEAS

Mid-February-early April (look for enation-resistant varieties, especially if you plant after mid-March).

HOW TO PLANT PEAS

Peas are best planted with vertical supports like a trellis or bamboo teepee. Some dwarf varieties don’t need support at all.

Seeds: Sow pea seeds 1” deep, 1”-2” apart, and about 1” from your support.

Starts (baby plants): Plant each cell (compartment) together in clumps (peas don’t mind being crowded). If they naturally fall apart when you are taking them out of their pots, plant each seedling 1”-2” apart.

Containers: Peas can be grown in containers at least 8” deep (space them 2” apart).

Fertilize: At or before planting.

Read more in this detailed guide on How to Grow Peas.

SALAD GREENS

Homegrown salad greens are so much tastier than those bought at the store and the variety is endless. I like to grow arugula, spinach, and a mix of different types of lettuce: butterhead, romaine, red iceberg, and frisée.

Romaine Lettuce.jpeg

WHEN TO PLANT SALAD GREENS

Arugula: Late February-May.

Lettuce: Late February-March (with protection from the cold); April-June. Sow a little at a time or you’ll have too many heads ready to eat all at the same time!

Spinach: Late February-May.

HOW TO PLANT SALAD GREENS

Seeds: Make a shallow furrow in the soil where you want to plant and sprinkle seeds, then cover with 1/8”-1/4” of soil. If you’d like to grow mature heads of lettuce, thin plants to 6”-8” apart.

Starts: Separate and plant individual plants 6”-8” apart to give space for mature lettuce heads. Or plant starts together and use the cut-and-come-again method for baby lettuce leaves. Thin spinach and arugula to 3”-6”.

Containers: Leafy salad greens grow really well in containers at least 6” deep. Try a dwarf lettuce variety like baby butterhead or grow by the cut-and-come-again method.

Fertilize: At or before planting.

RADISHES

Spring radishes are a thing of beauty. Crisp, tender, and just the right amount of peppery bite. Radishes grow so quickly, they’re also a great crop to plant where you will plant heat-loving vegetables like peppers and tomatoes later in the season.

Radishes.png

WHEN TO PLANT RADISHES

Late February-May (radishes tend to bolt when planted in hot weather).

HOW TO PLANT RADISHES

Seeds: Sow seeds 1/2” deep, 1”-2” apart. They germinate so quickly, they are often sown with lettuce and carrots to mark the rows.

Starts: Radishes are so easy to grow from seed that I don’t recommend using starts.

Containers: Radishes can be grown in containers that are at least 6”-8” deep

Fertilize: At or before planting.

Read more about how certain vegetables and flowers can help each other in our blog post The Secrets of Companion Planting.

SWISS CHARD

Rainbow Swiss Chard.jpg

Swiss chard, a relative of the beet, is not only delicious but beautiful as well. Try tucking rainbow Swiss chard in with ornamental plants for a pretty display.

WHEN TO PLANT SWISS CHARD

March-May.

HOW TO PLANT SWISS CHARD

Seeds: sow seeds 1/2” deep and 2”-3” apart. No thinning needed for baby chard but thin to 8”-12” for larger, mature heads.

Starts: Gently separate individual plants and place 8”-12” apart.

Containers: Grow Swiss chard in containers at least 12” deep and harvest leaves when they are still small.

Fertilize: At or before planting.

POTATOES

Right around St. Patrick’s day, when thoughts of Ireland abound, I plant my seed potatoes. They can go in the garden (although if you miss harvesting one, you’ll have potato plants for all eternity!) or into large containers. I like to use potato grow bags made of a tough, easy-to-clean material that lasts for years.

Potatoes.jpg

WHEN TO PLANT POTATOES:

Mid-March-May.

HOW TO PLANT POTATOES:

In a grow bag or extra-large container: Add about 4”-5” of potting soil to the bottom of the bag. Space 3-4 small seed potatoes (or cut large seed potatoes into pieces) around the soil with eyes facing up and cover with 3” soil. Water well. When the plants have grown 6” or so above the soil, add another 4” inches of soil to the bag. Repeat each time the plants have grown another 4”-6” until the soil reaches the top of the bag. This ensures a big harvest as potatoes will grow along the buried portion of the stems!

In the ground: Use the hilling method. Dig a trench about 8” deep. Place seed potatoes or pieces of seed potato 12” apart with eyes facing up. Fill the trench with soil. When the potatoes have grown about 6” above the soil, cover all but the top few inches of plants with more soil, hilling it up around the plants. Continue this method and potatoes will grow in the hills of soil.

Fertilize: At planting time and again 3 and 6 weeks after planting.

Learn more about growing potatoes on our Potato Care Sheet.

CARROTS

There’s no better feeling than pulling up a long, straight home-grown carrot (or an adorable baby round carrot). I think they’re much sweeter than store-bought carrots as well. Branch out and try purple or yellow carrots!

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WHEN TO PLANT CARROTS

March (with protection from the cold)-May; I like to sow a few rows every month so I have carrots to harvest over a longer period of time.

HOW TO PLANT CARROTS

Seeds: Create a furrow about 1/4”-1/2” deep, sprinkle seeds, and cover lightly with soil (carrot seeds are so tiny, it’s almost impossible to plant each seed separately; don’t worry, you can thin them to 2” when they are 2”-3” high).

Starts: Plant each cell (compartment) together, thinning to 2” when they are 2”-3” tall.

Containers: Baby round carrots grow well in containers at least 6” deep but longer carrots do better in the ground.

Fertilize: At or before planting.

BEETS

Beets are a great cool-season crop that has an added bonus. Not only can you eat the sweet roots, but you can also steam or stir-fry the greens for a healthy and delicious addition to your meal. I like to roast the beets, chop them and mix them with the sautéed greens and a little orange zest, then squeeze some fresh orange juice over the top.

Red-Beets.jpg

WHEN TO PLANT BEETS

Late March-May.

HOW TO PLANT BEETS

Seeds: Sow seeds 1/2” deep and 3”-4” apart. Beets are multigerm seeds, meaning that each seed will form multiple seedlings. Thin to one seedling every 3”-4”.

Starts: Gently separate beet seedlings and plant 3”-4” apart.

Containers: I don’t recommend growing beets in containers.

Fertilize: At or before planting and again 3 weeks after seedlings emerge.

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