There’s been a boom in home gardens in recent years, with the National Gardening Association reporting that 1 in 3 American households are growing their own food. While it takes some time and effort, planting a spring vegetable garden will pay off big when it comes to harvest time, providing an easy way to ensure you and your family get the nutrients you need while saving money at the same time.
Hardier vegetables can be planted even before the last frost date has passed, and for those who live in warmer climates, like Southern California, Jacksonville, Florida and much of the Lone Star State, you can start gardening in early spring or even sooner.
Lettuce is one of the hardiest vegetables, making it work especially well in spring. In fact, it loves cool, wet weather and you’ll have hundreds of varieties to choose from. Relatively easy to grow, it’s best to sow the seeds while temperatures are lower as they won’t germinate if the soil is 80 degrees or higher. You’ll get the earliest, longest harvest from cut-and-come-again types. Expect the plants to be ready in about two months.
Asparagus is a perennial vegetable which means you can plant it once and enjoy the harvest for many years to come. While these plants take space, they also tend to get more productive every year, with a mature harvest often lasting for months. Just keep in mind that even with the best of care, your asparagus ped won’t hit its peak for a few years, but once it does, it should produce an abundant crop spring after spring for the next 20 years or longer.
Spinach must be grown in cooler weather, making early spring ideal for planting in many regions. It tends to grow very quickly so it won’t be long before it’s time to harvest, and by continuously planting new spinach you’ll be able to extend it the harvest season. Like many cool-season vegetables, it’s a “spring ephemeral” that begins as a low rosette of leaves. It thrives in cool temperatures with regular watering, but “bolts”, or sends up a flower stalk, when temperatures rise in summer.
Broccoli also begins to flower when temperatures warm, making spring ideal for planting. It typically starts to form heads through May and can be harvested from spring to fall. This green veggie is especially rewarding to grow as it gets your garden started early and will continue to send up side shoots for weeks after you’ve harvested the main head for a long harvest season.
Rhubarb is one of those vegetables that’s often hard to find at the local market and is really underused in cooking, yet it’s incredibly easy to grow. Once the bed is established you can look forward to harvesting it every spring. It’s best planted early in the season, as soon as soil is workable. You won’t be able to get much the first couple of years – the first year you’ll need to leave it alone entirely, and the second, harvest only lightly, removing just a few stalks from each plant. The third year on you can begin harvest stems freely.