There easily over 45 different cool weather crops that can be grown in your Spring Garden or even over-wintered through your 3 Season Garden. But if you want to squeeze in a quick spring garden before your warm weather garden gets going there are a few things to consider.
- As always grow what you like to eat. That goes without saying right, but I said it anyways. You’d be surprised how many gardeners grow food they don’t necessarily like, grow too much of it, or have never even tasted it before.I’m all for experimentation, but do it sparingly. Maybe a plant or two of something you like, but have never grown before. Or, something you know will taste better than the grocery store foists upon you. It’s no secret; it will always taste better when you grow it yourself – better flavor, more nutrient density, sweeter and varieties of your choosing.
- Available space. If you only have a few garden beds to work with you need to consider how much of that space you want to utilize, will it transition with your warm weather garden, or does it need to be completely cropped out to make room for your cucumbers, melons, peppers and tomatoes?
- Finally, along with space you need to consider the time it takes to sprout, grow and harvest. Therefore, you might consider starting transplants weeks before you plan on putting them into the garden. When choosing your veg, you should also consider varieties with quick Days To Maturity (DTM) or harvest.
So, all that being said, here are My Top Quick to Mature Spring Crops I like to squeeze in before my main summer veg needs the space.
- Lettuce. Low in calorie, but high in nutrient density including Vitamins A, K, C, B-carotene. Green and Red loose leaf and Buttercrunch varieties can often be harvested between 45-52 days. If you have a little extra space and time a good Paris Island Cos Romaine fits nicely into your rotation, (DTM 55-75). Loose leaf varieties can be a one & done or cut & come again harvested throughout the spring.
- Spinach. You can plant Baby Leaf varieties for salads or omelet’s; or something like a Bloomsdale variety for steaming, juicing or smoothies. High in Vitamins A, C, E, & K and other micronutrients. DTM 40-48
- Swiss Chard. Bright Lights, Rainbow, Red, Green, Yellow & Fordhook are all great varieties to grow. Gorgeous colorful stalks and leaves will dress up any garden and are amazing steamed with a little lemon juice. High in Vitamins A, B, C, E & K. DTM 55-65.
- Kale. Often mentioned as a superfood, Kale is high in Vitamin, A, C & K. Eaten young and fresh are great in salads, steamed or sautéed, or just juiced or tossed into your smoothies. Plenty of varieties with DTM between 50-65 days.
- Peas. Growing up, peas never saw the inside of our kitchen as my dad and I ate them fresh off the vine. Peas are frost sensitive, but they can be direct sown early in the season as soon as the soil can be worked. If you’re like me, they’ll be grown, picked clean and eaten before the weather heats up. . Full or fiber, Vitamins, C, K and folate. Varieties abound with DTM between 51-58 days
- Cilantro. I don’t know why I associate Cilantro as a warm weather plant, (maybe it’s the summer recopies I tend to use it in), but it’s actually a cool weather crop. If you do have the space or if you plant it in a container, when it does start to heat up go ahead and let it bolt (go to seed), and enjoy the Coriander Seed for your spice rack. DTM 45. Harvest leaves as needed.
- Turnips. My Uncle would eat them like an apple. You can find varieties from hot to sweet. Eaten fresh (greens included), roasted or mashed, turnips are a good source of vitamin B6, C, folate, calcium, potassium, manganese and copper. Direct sow. DTM 30-55.
- Beets or Beetroot. Again, both the beetroot and the greens are edible They can be eaten fresh, roasted, mashed, juiced canned or pickled. A great source of fiber, Vitamin C, folate (vitamin B9), manganese, potassium and iron. Beetroots and beetroot juice have been associated with numerous health benefits, including reduce blood pressure, improve circulation and are packed with anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. DTM 50-59.
- Radish. One of my father’s favorites garden snacks. He wasn’t aware of it, but the tops are edible too. These are the quickest growing cool weather crop and super easy to grow. DTM as early as 22-52 days depending on the variety. Eaten raw, roasted and mashed they are a good source of Vitamin C, K and contain smaller amounts of folate and vitamin B6, calcium, manganese, and potassium. Varieties can be pungent or sweet.
However long your spring is or whatever you decide to plant, be sure to include some of these quick growing vegetables in your spring time garden.