Ashleigh Smith + photo

Ashleigh Smith

Mar 20
3 min read
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man planting lettuce in planter box

The first day of spring has arrived and it is time to get working in the garden if you haven’t already started. Depending on your local weather and average last spring frost date, work in the garden may look different from one town to the next. For some, snow may still prevent you from working outside. If this is the case for you, begin by starting seeds indoors. Once your soil at ground level is workable, you can start sowing directly. However, not all vegetables can tolerate cool spring soils. That leaves the question, what can be planted in the cool early spring months? You will want to prioritize vegetables that begin to bolt or burn with hot summer temperatures. Generally, leafy greens and brassicas do best when planted early. Check out our list below for ideas to get your spring garden started now. The months listed are approximations. Use the average last frost date for your location as the most accurate measure for starting seeds indoors. Count back the appropriate number of weeks listed below and get sowing!

Growing Early Spring Vegetables In Temperate Climates

When Soil is Workable (March) Directly Sow:

spring frost on young seedlings

young girl planting seeds

2 weeks later (April) Directly Sow:

March Start Indoors, Transplant After 4-6 weeks:

transplanting broccoli starts

transplanting tomato starts

March Start Indoors, Transplant after 6-8 Weeks:

April Start Indoors, Transplant After 3 Weeks (Best Directly Sown):

butternut squash seed starts

man holding watering can in corn field

May-June Direct Sow:

If you experience persistent winter weather and the threat of frost, it is better to transplant your warm-weather crops and tender seedlings like tomatoes and peppers into a larger container. Leaving seedlings in too small of a container for too long may lead to weaker plants without access to enough nutrients. Once a seedling's root system has bound up the soil in a container, it may be transplanted to promote continued healthy root growth until they can be moved to their final growing location outside when the threat of frost is gone.

Always harden off young seedlings before placing them outside for the season. Without the gradual adjustment period to build up cell wall strength, your young plants may quickly wilt and become damaged due to changing day and night temperatures, humidity differences, wind, etc. Gradually build strength in your plants by exposing them to the outdoors over the course of 1-2 weeks. Start with a few hours and build to staying out all day and all night. Like building a callus, this process takes time. Rushing it too quickly may result in weakened or damaged plants.

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