21 Best Vegetables to Grow in Pots (It’s So Easy!)

21 Best Vegetables to Grow in Pots (It’s So Easy!)

Growing your own vegetables is one of the most enjoyable endeavors you can attempt. Not only will you be rewarded with a delicious bounty of nutritious vegetables at the end of the growing season, but you will also save some money, too.

However, if you have a short growing season or lack ample gardening space – for example, if you live in an apartment – you might think that this is not something you can easily do. You’re in luck. There are plenty of veggies that can easily be grown in containers with minimal expertise and know-how. It’s simply a matter of knowing the best vegetables to grow in pots, along with implementing some helpful tips.

Leafy Greens

Spinach

Spinach is not only great for you, but it’s one of the best vegetables to grow in pots. A cold-hardy plant, you can keep spinach in containers outside well into the autumn months. You might, however, want to mulch it or bring it inside during the hottest days of summer to protect it from being scorched.

Collard Greens

Collard greens thrive in containers – just as long as you put the container in full sunlight during the day. These greens need at least six hours of sunlight during the fall and spring months but prefer a little bit of shade during the hot afternoon hours of summer.

Kale

Spinach isn’t the only leafy green to consider if you want to grow vegetables in pots! You should also give kale a try. The perfect plant for container gardening, it requires minimal space. You can grow five kale plants in just a 20-inch pot. A cold-tolerant plant, you should be able to keep your kale plants outside in containers much of the year.

Lettuce

One of the easiest vegetables to grow in a pot, lettuce requires minimal upkeep. Just plant your seeds in a container on the patio and begin harvesting in just a few weeks. Another benefit of lettuce is that it can tolerate the shade and the sunlight, so you can move it around to wherever it’s most convenient for you. Just be careful about giving it too much heat!

Root Vegetables

Radishes

Because radishes are so small, they do quite well when planted in containers. As long as you select a short variety, you can grow radishes in just about any kind of container. Longer ones will need to be planted in taller containers.

Carrots

Carrots, along with almost every other root crop, can easily be grown in containers. When sown thinly and cared for properly, carrots can be grown in containers exactly as they would be if you grew them directly in the garden.

Potatoes

Many people don’t know this, but potatoes grow shockingly well in containers. You can grow potatoes year-round in a container, in fact- you’ll never have to buy them again! Just make sure you put some holes in the bottom of your container for aeration. You’ll yield a pound or two of potatoes each growing season per container.

Beets

Beets can easily be grown in pots, too. Since beets grow quickly and require no transplanting, you can grow them quickly in a container as long as it’s big enough. Sow your seeds thinly, and keep in mind that you might have to thin again later, too.

Onions

You can even grow onions in containers! As long as you have plenty of space – a planter that is more than five inches deep is ideal – you should be able to fit several onion sets in a container. You can harvest the tops, too.

Parsnips

The parsnip is an acquired taste – as a result, it can be tough to find parsnips in stores out of season. Luckily, you can easily grow parsnips in containers. You will want a deep container since they can get quite long. Make sure you cut holes for drainage, too.

Turnips

Turnips do quite well in containers. You will need a pot that is at least eight inches deep to provide for adequate root growth, and you will also need a pot with excellent drainage. Turnips are highly susceptible to overwatering.

Everyone’s Favorite Garden Vegetables

Zucchini and Summer Squash

Zucchini is not only one of the easiest vegetables to grow, but it’s also one of the best vegetables to grow in pots. As with all summer squash, zucchini can grow just about anywhere you plant it. Choose a large pot for best results. You will want to harvest your plants regularly so they don’t become overweight with fruits – plus, this will keep production up as the plants won’t be putting unnecessary energy into growing monstrous, woody fruits.

Peppers

Certain types of peppers do exceptionally when in containers. From bell peppers to hot peppers, you can grow just about any kind of these heat-loving varieties in pots. Provide plenty of room for your peppers to grow – a ten-gallon container may be necessary for some varieties. These plants also need lots of sunlight each day (at least eight hours).

Cucumbers

Like zucchini, cucumbers grow quite well in containers. You can grow them indoors or outdoors as long as you have a trellis to support them and to maximize the available space. The best varieties for growing cucumbers in pots are midget pickles and Spacemasters.

Beans

You can grow either pole or bush beans in pots. Pole beans do well if you have some sort of trellis or pole for the vines to travel up, while bush beans grow in a squatter, more uniform pattern. Regardless of the type you choose, try to use at least a twelve-inch container.

Peas

All types of peas, including snow peas and sugar snap peas, can be grown in containers. They taste great in stir-fries or when sauteed. Plus, since the plants are small, they are easily grown in pots. As with pole beans, you will need to provide some kind of trellis system. They thrive in the cool conditions of early spring.

Tomatoes

A classic container plant is the tomato plant. Many people grow tomatoes in pots so that they can be brought in out of the cold to enjoy the warmer temperature inside your house. Make sure you stake your plants to avoid breakage!

Unusual Container Veggies

Asparagus

Asparagus can be grown in a pot, too. It’s a hardy plant and is perennial, meaning it will come back in later years. When properly cared for, asparagus can live for years. Make sure you have a large plant that is relatively shallow – it just needs to have a broad diameter.

Cauliflower and Broccoli

Cauliflower, broccoli, and other cole crops (like cabbage) are perfect candidates for growing in pots. Not only are they cold-tolerant and easy to grow, but these plants can thrive when planted in pots at least eight inches deep.

Eggplant

As long as you have your pots in a warm, sunny enough location, even eggplant can be grown in them. You will want to avoid overcrowding since eggplant tends to sprawl. Choose a pot that is at least five inches deep. Clay pots are good choices for eggplant since they allow lots of heat to permeate into the soil.

Artichokes

Let’s face it – for most people, artichokes are super difficult to grow. But if you enjoy the taste of artichokes, you may feel repulsed by the high prices charged at the grocery store. Instead of shelling out all your hard-earned cash, why not try growing artichokes in pots? They’re low maintenance and best planted in fall since they take a long time to germinate.

Tips for Growing Vegetables in Pots

If you’re ready to start growing some of the best vegetables in pots, consider some of these helpful tips to get you started.

Consider Your Container Type and Size

Not sure what kind of container you should use? Don’t worry. Usually, any kind of container will do. However, there are some stipulations to this. Some plants – like eggplant – require wide containers in order to spread their roots. Others, including root crops such as carrots and turnips, need deeper pots so that they can form long tubers. Make sure you research your plant type before selecting your container.

You will want to pay attention to the watering needs of your plants, too. Clay pots usually need more water than plastic or wooden ones, since the porous terracotta will absorb heat and drain water more quickly. Think about the color, too – dark-colored containers will stay warmer than light ones. Always avoid containers made out of treated wood, as it contains chemicals that can be absorbed by your vegetables.

Use the Best Soil

Vegetables don’t usually care about the type of pot they are in, but they do care about the soil. Make sure you add plenty of organic matter or choose a balanced organic potting mix. Make sure the soil is not too light but also not too heavy – you can often balance out the structure of your soil by adding materials like potting soil, peat moss, vermiculite, sand, or perlite, depending on your specific needs.

Mulch and Fertilize Regularly

Fertilizing is important when it comes to growing in pots. Since the plants aren’t being grown directly in the ground, they don’t have access to all the “good stuff” that they normally would be able to access. We’re not just talking about your basic nitrogen and phosphorous, either. Plants also need micronutrients, like calcium and magnesium, in order to thrive. Only a balanced fertilizer can provide this. An organic option, like compost, is best. Not only will it introduce the nutrients your plants need, but it will also provide the soil with beneficial microorganisms, too.

Bring Indoors if Needed

Not all plants can thrive outdoors 365 days out of the year. Consider the climate of your growing zone and how it relates to the growing needs of your plants. Frost-sensitive plants, like peppers and tomatoes, can be brought indoors when the temperature dips, while heat-sensitive vegetables like lettuce should be brought inside during the dog days of summer.

What Are the Advantages of Growing Vegetables in Pots?

There are countless benefits to growing vegetables in containers. Not only does this practice allow you to cultivate plants that you might not easily be able to find at the supermarket (or find without paying a pretty penny) but it’s also exceptionally easy. Container-grown vegetables often retain moisture and tolerate weather fluctuations more easily than those grown in the ground. Plus, since you don’t need to wait for the ground to warm up, you can start a container garden in the spring. A vegetable grown in a pot is also less likely to suffer from weeds, diseases, and insect pests.

So what are you waiting for? Select some pots, select some plants, and start planting today.

20 Vegetables That Grow in Shade

20 Vegetables That Grow in Shade

Wondering what vegetables grow in the shade? No matter where you might live, it can be tough to find the optimal conditions for growing vegetables.

 

From shade produced by nearby buildings to hefty tree limbs that block out the afternoon sun, finding a garden plot with the perfect amount of sunlight your plants need can be a challenge. However, you don’t need to move mountains in order to grow a productive garden. 

 

Instead, you just need to consider these vegetables that grow in shade. 

 

What is Considered “Shade”?

There are essentially three different sunlight settings that can describe how much light your plants will get during the growing season. 

 

Full sun refers to areas that receive direct sunlight for a  minimum of six hours each day. Usually, this will be sometime between the hours of 10 am and 6pm. 

 

Partial shade, on the other hand, refers to areas that receive three to six hours of sun each day. This can include areas of filtered or dappled sunlight, even if it’s just during a short window each day. 

 

Full shade areas receive no direct sun or even any reflected light during the day. It can be pretty tricky to grow any kind of vegetable in full shade (after all, every plant needs light to grow)- as a result, most of the plants we will recommend in this article should be considered for partial shade instead. 

 

Top 20 Vegetables That Grow in Shade

When you’re looking for the best vegetables to grow in the shade, you will want to consider plants like leafy greens (which are sensitive to the sun) and root vegetables, that can tolerate some partial shade as well. 

 

Here are some of the top vegetables that grow in shade. 

 

Beans

Beans require very little work to grow, which is probably why they are found in just about every gardener’s plot. In addition, they grow well with moderate amounts of daily shade. With so many different types of beans to choose from, they’re a smart choice for your shade garden for sure. 

 

Arugula

One of the fastest-growing leafy greens, arugula is a great option for your backyard shade garden. Although not everyone will be fond of arugula’s musky, peppery taste, it can’t be argued that it performs exceptionally well when grown in partial shade.

 

Broccoli

Broccoli loves being grown in lots of shade. A member of the cabbage family, it really only requires a few hours of sunlight each day along with plenty of water. In some places, you might be able to sneak in multiple crops throughout the growing season, too – just make sure you trim back the flowers so the plant doesn’t bolt on you.

 

Beets 

Beets are one of the best cold-hardy crops you can grow, but they are also one of the best vegetables that grow in shade for you to consider, too. Although too much shade can cause your beetroots to become a bit tiny, the greens will still produce remarkably well. Plant beets in succession for a continual harvest and make sure you keep them well-watered!

 

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts – you either love them or you hate them. These plants are fun to watch as they mature and they will do so quite well even in the shade. Brussels sprouts grow well into the cold season and actually prefer being grown in cooler weather. 

 

Spinach

Spinach can be grown with just a few hours of sunlight each day. Because it is a cold-loving plant, it even grows well in the waning daylight hours of fall and spring. NOt only is spinach an excellent salad green, but it can be used in a variety of cooked recipes, too. If you start planting early, you can plant in succession for a crop all season long.

 

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard is a colorful beauty for you to consider in your backyard shade garden. Preferring partial shade, this plant is biennial – you can overwinter it to grow it a second year. Chard is easy to grow and requires minimal maintenance, making it perfect for the inexperienced gardener. 

 

Kale

Kale is another superb candidate for your shade garden. Closely related to cabbage, this plant can also be grown in a container and likes cool soil temperatures and lots of shade. It can even handle a light frost!

 

Collard Greens

Yet another cabbage relative on this list is collard greens. This plant tastes delicious sauteed as well as in a salad. Collard greens require at least four hour of sun each day, so if you have a shadier garden that receives a bit of dappled sunlight every now and then, you’re in luck. This plant also performs well in cold climates.

 

Cauliflower

A very close relative to broccoli, cauliflower also grows well in the shade. It can tolerate a ton of cold and shade. Delicious cooked and fresh, cauliflower should be blanched if you want it to have a sweeter taste.

 

Cress

Also known as garden cress, cress is a rare vegetable that many gardeners overlook when they are considering the major vegetables that grow in shade. However, this is a great option for you to consider if you want another leafy green to dd to the dinner table. Not only does it mature with lightning speeds, but it can also be grown in moist soil and is known for its peppery flavor. 

 

Mustard Greens

Move over, spinach and kale. Here’s a new leafy green to consider growing in the shade. Mustard greens can be grown either in full sun or in partial shade, but since they prefer cooler temperatures, you might want to grow them in the shade. 

 

Peas

Peas do quite well in a partially shady location, primarily because they like being cool. However your timing will be important – you need to make sure you sow your seeds and can get a harvest before it gets too hot. 

 

Endive

Endives perform remarkably well with only a few hours of sunlight each day. This is specifically true if you are growing the plant during the hottest days of the summer – offering shade will prevent the plant from bolting too soon. It can also be grown in a pot!

 

Lettuce

Lettuce is truly a gardener’s staple and is a cool-season green that grows well in partial shade. You can grow it in almost complete shade, too – some gardeners even use shade cloth to prevent it from becoming signed in the summer sun. 

 

Radishes

The humble radish is one of the best vegetables to grow in the shade. Not only does it take up very little space, but it doesn’t like a lot of sun or heat – in fact, it will taste woody if you give it too much sun. 

 

Not only do radishes taste great on their own (and there are so many varieties!) the tops can be eaten, too. Radishes can be grown in the fall and the spring and there are plenty of possibilities and varieties for you to grow. 

 

Bok Choy

Also known as Chinese cabbage, bok choy is perfect in soups and salads. It can be grown easily in dappled sunlight or even more serious shade. It requires just two hours of sunlight each day to maintain its deep green leaves. 

 

Green Onions

You might also hear green onions referred to as scallions. These plants grow quickly and are hardy to most conditions. They can be sprouted by soaking the roots in a container of water before transplanting them to partial shade. Delicious in a salad or cooked dish, green onions can sometimes be grown as perennial shade crops, too.

 

Carrots 

Another root vegetable that grows well in the shade is the mighty carrot. Carrots can handle partial shade with grace – if you can provide your carrots with six or more hours of sunlight, they will grow more rapidly, but you can also grow them in the shade. You just might have to wait a bit longer! 

 

Potatoes

Potatoes need at least five hours of sunlight if you want large tubers. However, if you have a shadier spot, feel free to give them a try – you might end up with great boiling potato at the very least! They don’t, however, n eed super hot weather to grow – potatoes prefer soil temperatures in the 40s and 50s. 

 

Tips for Growing Vegetables in the Shade

Invest in Your Soil

The key to growing healthy vegetables, but particularly vegetables that grow in shade, is making sure you have good soil that can actually support plant life. If you are already going to be challenging your crop to grow with minimal sun, it’s super important that your plants have fertile soil that is well-draining and not compacted. Add some compost to help improve your structure and soil fertility.

 

Moderate Moisture

Don’t water your shade garden like you would water a garden in full sun! Moisture won’t evaporate as quickly, so you won’t need to water your garden quite as frequently. If it’s near trees, however, you will need to water a bit more since your vegetables will be competing with the trees for water. 

 

Keep an Eye Out For Pests 

Certain pests are opportunistic little buggers and will seize any opportunity they can get to attack your plants. Shady areas also tend to be a bit cooler and isolated, making them the perfect habitat for shade-loving (but crop-destroying) creatures like snails and slugs. 

 

Prevent Diseases

Just as you will need to monitor the moisture levels in your vegetable garden in the shade, you will also need to be mindful of moisture. You are more likely to suffer from various fungal diseases like powdery mildew, when you are gardening in the shade because your plants won’t have as much opportunity to rid themselves of excess moisture. 

 

Think About Maturation Times 

There are plenty of vegetables that grow in the shade, but it’s important to remember that they won’t grow exactly like their sun-loving counterparts. You may find that your plants take a bit longer to mature than what you see noted on the seed packet.

 

Start Your Seedlings Indoors

Starting seeds ahead of time indoors is a great way to give them a jump start before they need to be in the shade. You can start your own transplants and plant them whenever the ground has warmed.

 

Plant in Succession 

Not sure how well your shade garden is going to perform, or concerned that your plants will take longer to mature? Don’t worry. All you need to do is plant succession. This will allow you to reap multiple harvests of the same crop despite the delays related to the shade. 

 

Grow the Right Plants 

Don’t try to grow plants that are adapted to full sun conditions when you only have partial sun available where you’re trying to garden. Crops that demand lots of light, such as blossoming plants like tomatoes and peppers, will not do well in a shady environment no matter how much you build up your soil ahead of time. 

 

Modify Your Environment 

Consider pruning low tree branches or thinning out tall limbs to let more sunlight pour into your garden. You can also paint nearby surfaces white to reflect more light back onto your garden. You can also use a reflective mulch to serve this purpose. 

 

Grow in Containers 

Growing in containers is a great way to accommodate for an overly shady garden. Not only will you be able to move your plants as the seasons change, but you can bring them inside once the weather cools, too.

 

Why You Should Consider These Vegetables That Grow in Shade

If you have a shady garden and think you can’t successfully grow vegetables, think again. A partially shaded garden not only allows for a longer growing season for cool-season crops (like broccoli) but the shade can also protect your plants from the hot rays of the summer sun. 

 

Shade-grown vegetables also taste better. They tend to be more succulent and less bitter, since they haven’t had to spend all of their energy staying cool. 

 

Consider these tips and order your seeds . There are plenty of vegetables that grow in the shade – and now that you’re no longer in the dark, you should start planting as soon as possible.

What Can You Grow In January? Get Crackin’!

What Can You Grow In January? Get Crackin’!

All right, y’all. We made it past the holidays, and now we’re into big gardening time. So, you’re probably wondering, “What can you grow in January?”

 

What can you grow in January? Here's vegetable gardening for beginners ideas and when to plant your seeds!!

 

 

 

January is kind of a dull month. All the major holidays are over, we’ve all got sticker shock at how much we spent in the past couple months, and it’s freakin’ cold.

 

So, not much fun, which is where starting your seedlings comes in. The seed catalogues are rolling in, and it’s time to start figuring out what you’ll grow.

 

(this article is an excerpt from my bestselling book Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening.  You can get a copy on Amazon or buy it directly from me which will save you 10% and you’ll get the digital copy for free.

 

Buy your copy right here)

 

What can you grow in January?

Now, there’s definitely some vegetable seedlings you can start indoors under lights, which you can eventually transition out to cold frames.

 

I show you in this article which vegetables do best in cold frames.

 

And there’s some things you can grow right in your kitchen, such as sunflower microgreens (tasty for you AND your chickens).

 

So, if you’re still wondering “what can you grow in January?” then hang onto your pants (please, do, really. No one wants to see you with your pants down), and check out the list below.

 

square foot gardening plant spacing

Kale (Brassica oleracea acephala)

My old friend kale does well in cold weather, and because of that, you can start it right now if the gardening itch is getting to you.

 

You can buy kale seeds from my favorite store Seeds Now.

 

Keep that grow light about 1-2 inches above the pots. I tend to broadcast kale and then thin because the seeds are so tiny.

 

My old eyes and cranky finger joints can’t handle the fiddly-ness of individual potting. If this sounds like you, then broadcast in trays filled with soil, and cover lightly with dirt.

 

In Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening, I show you how to care for kale, harvest it, and save the seeds. All important stuff for a self-sufficient garden!

 

square foot gardening plant spacing

Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)

So, confession time. I grow lettuce for my chickens and my rabbits because it’s fun watching them eat it, and I’m not a huge fan of lettuce personally.

 

You can get organic lettuce seeds for a reasonable price right here.

 

I started using this plan because I always wanted to grow in January, even though I’m not a huge fan of lettuce. But it works out, and the critters are happy with everything I grow for them (in January and the rest of the year, too).

 

So, lettuce isn’t that much different than kale, although it IS less cold loving.

 

Because we live in Missouri, and don’t have a spring, I start these in January. The rule of thumb is to start lettuce seeds indoors under lights about 6 weeks before the last spring frost date.

 

Go here if you want to grow in January based on the last spring frost date.

 

Lettuce seeds like a heat range of 45 – 75 degrees for germination, so if you’re startings seeds inside your house, you should be okay, but if you’re starting out in a garage, you might need a heat mat like this one.

 

If you care for your lettuce seedlings well enough, you should get quite a few early spring harvests out of them.

 

Just remember that your lettuce will be with you indoors through January and on into the later months before transplant, so they’ll need a bit of space – go with 6 inch pots to start them so they have plenty of room to grow.

 

square foot gardening plant spacing

Mustard (Brassica juncea)

Mustard is another one I start to grow in January. It’s best to start mustard 3 weeks before your last spring frost date, but in this neck of the woods, that can be very early.

 

In 2017, we had a series of very warm weeks in February and into March, and it never really cooled down again.

 

And mustard doesn’t like heat, so it shoots up, and I lose my crop. Which is why I start it under lights as early as January 15.

 

Like kale, mustard seeds are small and fiddly, so I broadcast in a tray and then thin.

 

Those seeds like temps at least 55 degrees, so again, if you’re starting them outside in a greenhouse or garage, use a heat mat.

 

You can also learn how to heat your off grid greenhouse, which is simpler than it seems.

 

Mustard seeds are another one I save. It’s easy, and I show you how to do it in Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening.

 

Onions (Allium cepa)

Onions are a bit tricky, and if you want to grow in January and transplant, now is a good time to get going.

 

Now, fair warning: They need a lot of space and it’s easier to start them from sets. But if you’re dedicated, you can definitely have success starting them under lights in January. Onions need temps over 30 degrees to flourish, so just remember that when you start your grow tray.

 

square foot gardening plant spacing

Spinach (Spinacia oleracea)

I’ve never had much success growing spinach indoors since it doesn’t transplant well, but maybe you’ll have better luck.

 

You can buy organic spinach seeds here.

 

I prefer direct sowing, especially since it can survive light frosts (the plant, at least. The seedlings….that’s another story).

 

Spinach needs soil temps of at least 40 degrees to grow, but doesn’t do well if soil temps are above 70 degrees. So, this is a good one to start in a cold frame or in a garage under lights. Or a greenhouse!

 

Herbs

You can start various herbs now for transplant in your garden in spring/early summer. If your house is warm enough, you can start them under lights without a heat mat (although it’s easier with the heat mat).

 

You can buy organic herb seeds here.

 

square foot gardening plant spacing

Use these tricks to starting seeds easier

There are some seeds that take a few extra steps to start (or, it can help them start better). In this article, I show you 2 easy tricks that should be in your master gardener toolkit to starting seeds from certain vegetables easier!

 

Wondering what can you grow in January for your chickens? Well, luckily, pretty much all the veggies we discuss in this article are great for chickens. Mine particularly like kale, herbs, and spinach!

 

square foot gardening plant spacing




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What Can I Plant In September?

What Can I Plant In September?

Although the gardening season is winding down, you might be wondering “what can I plant in September?”

 

As long as you have a south-facing cold frame set up (or a hot bed would be better), you have options for crops you can grow through the winter.

 

(For directions to build a cold frame and a hot bed, check out my bestselling book, Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening)

 

Without a cold frame, unless you live in a warm area (zones 8-11), you’ll not have much success. Even in our area, we can over winter spinach without a cold frame, but not much else.

 

In this article, I’m going to show you 11 crops you can still grow in September, even though the days are getting shorter and cooler!

 

Lettuce

Direct sow your lettuce when temperatures inside your cold frame are between 45 F and 65 F. You can sow either individual seeds in rows or broadcast. After sowing, cover the seeds lightly with ¼ inch of soil.

 

When seedlings are 4” tall, thin to 4 – 16 inches apart depending on the lettuce you’re planting. It’s best to avoid firm headed lettuces and shoot for leaf types.

 

Radishes

We love growing radishes because they’re as close as you can get to instant gratification in a garden. They’re ready to harvest in about 30 days.

 

Direct sow radishes by planting seeds ½ inch deep and 1 inch apart. Rows should be 12 inches apart and in full sun.

 

A week after seedlings emerge, thin radishes to about an inch apart. When crowded, radishes will sprawl and not form round roots. They will be woody and bitter.

 

Plant consecutively every two weeks for a continuous harvest of radishes.

 

Beets

Beets are perfect to grow in a cold frame because they can survive frost and temperatures down to 32 degrees (although soil temp needs to be at least 50 degrees for the seeds to germinate).

 

Before planting, select a sunny site, and incorporate compost into the soil. Test the soil because a pH higher than 6 and lower than 5 makes it difficult for the seeds to sprout.

 

Soak the seeds for 24 hours before direct sowing them to speed up germination.

 

Plant seeds ½ inch deep and thin to 2 inches apart when the seedlings are 4 inches tall. Snip the seedlings you’re removing (instead of pulling them out of the soil) so you don’t disturb the soil.

 

Cabbages

Cabbage prefers to only grow in cold temperatures, and as soon as heat hits our farm, cabbage season is as good as over.

 

Kale

Kale is an incredibly resilient plant and thrives in colder temperatures, and the funny thing about kale, is it tastes better if it’s been through a frost!  

 

We broadcast kale seeds because they’re so tiny, and the plants thrive well in close quarters as long as you fertilize and water regularly. Cover lightly with dirt and mist regularly. In 3-4 weeks, you should see seedlings.

 

Be sure to harvest the outer leaves of kale before they get too big to ensure they’re still tender and not bitter.

 

Leeks

These green treats resemble giant scallions, and are excellent for sub-freezing temperatures – they have proven to be cold-hardy down to approximately 5° Fahrenheit!

 

Spinach

Spinach needs 6 weeks of cool weather to grow to harvest size properly, so as soon as the soil is workable, sow spinach in a cold frame. Soil temperature should not exceed 70 degrees to ensure your spinach germinates.

 

Sow spinach ½ inch deep. We broadcast our spinach seeds since they’re so small. To ensure a consistent harvest, plant spinach successively every 2-3 weeks.

 

Onions

This robust crop can easily withstand freezes and frosts, making them perfect for a cold frame. You can grow onions from seeds or sets; starting with sets is a bit easier.

 

When planting onions, it’s important to remember that they need full sun in order to grow healthy, so make sure your cold frame is in a sunny location.  

 

Plant in rows 12 inches apart, and about 1 inch deep for sets

 

Swiss Chard

This crop is quite cold-hardy. Plant seeds ½ inch deep. It’s simplest to broadcast the seeds, then cover lightly with dirt. Succession plant seeds every 2 weeks for a continued harvest.

 

Cover crops

Cover crops such as clover. This time of year is a good time to think about direct sowing cover crops – they’ll prevent your topsoil from getting blown away and lower the amount of weeds come spring. They’ll also fix nitrogen so your spring crops will get a kickstart thanks to all the nutrients in the soil.

 

Garlic

Don’t forget to plant your garlic bulbs! You’ll want to plant them now for a summer harvest next June. Start before it gets too cold, and be sure to cover with straw if frost threatens.

 

Get The Most Out of Your Garden: Your Early Spring Planting Guide

Get The Most Out of Your Garden: Your Early Spring Planting Guide

Get out the compost and make those raised beds, because spring is almost here.

 

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My raised beds are ready for dirt and compost!

I’m starting my tomato and squash seedlings indoors, and even starting some crops outside (potatoes, anyone?). Now, before you think I’m jumping the gun, here’s the thing about me.

 

I love kale, and I’m not afraid to say it. 

 

Mix it with some homemade butter and straight-from-the-garden garlic, and I’m set. I start growing it as soon as I possibly can.

 

I can even get my husband to eat it on occasion.


Getting your garden started? Want to reap a better harvest?

YES, I WANT A GREAT HARVEST!


I’ve never been a big fan of radishes and arugula, but I’m starting them soon for the animals, with the hope it will even further reduce our grain expenditures.

 

I’m starting to get the winter blues, so focusing on spring is helping me beat them. And I’m increasing my self-sufficiency at the same time!

 

Here’s a starter guide to the crops you can grow in early spring, for both people and animals.

 

The most important thing I’m doing at this stage (aside from planting!) is using mulch to cover the garden. The last thing I want is late-winter scavengers to snap up the seeds I spent so much time planting!

 

wpid-cymera_20150210_134455.jpgArugula – Sow in the garden as soon as your soil can be worked. They’ll germinate in about 7 days, and ready to harvest in about a month.

 

For a continual supply, succession plant every 2 weeks until high temps will cause the arugula to bolt.

 

Beets – Sow seeds in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Plant in well-drained, sandy soil. Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers as this will encourage top growth at the expense of root development.

 

Aerate your soil for uniform, healthy development. Keep consistently moist. Mulch to suppress weeds.

 

Broccoli – Sow broccoli directly in the garden 4 weeks before your last frost date. You can set out transplants 2 weeks before the last frost date when day time temperatures are between 65 and 80 degrees.

 

Give your plants a boost 3 weeks after transplanting.

 

CabbageSauerkraut anyone? Direct sow in the garden immediately after your last frost date, or plant transplants in the garden 2 weeks before your last front date.

 

Start seeds 6 to 8 weeks indoors before your last front date. Cabbage plants require soil rich in organic matter and consistent moisture.

 

Carrots – Plant seeds about 2 weeks before your last frost date. Carrots need deep, loose soil to form a strong, straight root. Keep the bed mulched to avoid competition from other plants.

 

Avoid forked roots by limiting nitrogen and keeping the bed stone-free. When the seedlings are about 2 inches tall, thin them so there’s 1″ to 4″ gaps between them.

 

You can also use alternate planting to increase your harvest and cut down on thinning. I use pre-planted seeds I created over winter to cut down on thinning.

 

Collards – Collard transplants can be planted 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Plant in fertile, well-drained soil. Soil rich in organic matter will encourage tender leaves, great for microgreens.

 

wpid-cymera_20150210_133242.jpgKale – A favorite here! You can plant kale about 3 to 5 weeks before the last frost date. Plant in soil rich in organic matter, and cover with cold frames during hard freezes. Great for flavorful microgreens!

 

Kohlrabi – Put out transplants of this funky looking plant 4 weeks before your last frost date. Kohlrabi is related to the cabbage, and can be eaten in similar ways.

 

Mulch or use protection against severe temperatures, and the cool temps will enhance the flavor.

 

Lettuce – The ideal day time temps for lettuce are between 60 and 70 degrees. Lettuce is more sensitive to cold than other cool season vegetables, so be sure to cover during freezing temps.  

 

Fertilize with a high-nitrogen fertilizer. Lettuce will grow in partial shade, and does better sheltered from the hot afternoon sun. Romaine is a favorite here (I finally steered my husband away from iceberg!)

 

wpid-cymera_20150210_133359.jpgOnions – Onions can be grown from sets, seeds, or transplants. This year I’m trying both sets and seeds.

 

Plant in early spring as soon as the soil is workable. Mulch to protect from hungry critters and freezing temperatures.

 

Peas – Direct sow in the garden 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost date in your area. They will germinate in soil temperatures as low as 40 degrees F.

 

Seedlings will survive a late snow and short periods of temperatures down to 25* F.

 

Potatoes – Plant potatoes when temps rise (if you want a permaculture indicator, plant your seed potatoes when grass begins to grow).

 

I cut my potatoes into 1” pieces with 2 to 3 eyes, you can also plant the whole potato. Soil should be loose, fertile and well drained. Mulch to protect from hungry critters and freezing temperatures.

 

Radishes – This year, I’m doing daikon, french  breakfast, and regular radishes. Sow radish seeds in the garden about 4 weeks before the last frost date in your area.

 

They are ready to harvest as soon as they are of edible size. Succession plant for a continual supply until temps are too high. Try one more than one variety, and see which does best in your garden.

 

wpid-cymera_20150210_134258.jpgSpinach – You can transplant spinach 4 weeks before the last frost date in your area, or you can sow seeds into frozen ground. They will germinate as the soil thaws.

 

Transplants can be set out 4 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Spinach prefers very fertile soil, so plant in soil enriched with compost, or fertilize when the plants are about 4 inches tall.

 

Swiss Chard – There’s nothing better than the gorgeous colors swiss chard brings to your garden. Direct sow seeds 2 weeks before your last frost date.

 

Use pre-made seed tapes, or thin to 6-inches apart when seedlings are 3-inches tall. Water regularly and mulch to protect.

 

Tatsoi – Extremely cold hardy, tatsoi can withstand temperatures down to -15 degrees F. Tatsoi likes rich soil and plenty of moisture all through the growing season, so mulching is best.

 

It’s a very pretty ornamental, so consider growing it in your landscape. Space the initial planting very densely, then harvest entire plants for baby greens, but leave the final survivors to grow to maturity at about 12″ spacing.

 

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Turnips – Plant 2 weeks before the last frost date. Any well-drained soil will do.

 

Consistent moisture is key for healthy root development. Although it is not necessary, the greens will be the most tender if you plant in a fertile soil.

 

Wheat – We’re going to try wheat for the first time this spring. Be sure to use a spring variety (winter wheat won’t produce without some hard freezes) so check that label.

 

Plant when the ground can be worked and after your last frost date. It’s best to use a seed drill, but if you can’t, you can broadcast the seeds and rake them into the ground, making sure to cover with hay or mulch to keep critters away.

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Which of these cold weather crops will you plant? Leave a comment below!