Here is list of 7 vegetables that can be started very early, most as soon as the ground can be worked. They are all very hardy or hardy and thrive in cooler weather. Don’t be afraid to set them out in the cooler weather. They really do like and can handle the frost !!
1.- Peas – are a very hardy vegetable that can be sown directly in the garden as soon as the soil can be worked. Which is usually 5-6 weeks before the average date of your last frost. Plant them about 2 inches deep and 2 inches apart. Provide a nice trellis for them to climb on . They like well drained soil rich in organic matter, and need plenty of moisture.
2.- Cauliflower – Are a very hardy variety of vegetable. For the best results start seeds indoors 10-12 weeks before the average last frost date. Let them grow indoors for about 6 weeks then the hardening off for a week and then into the garden about 5-6 weeks before the last frost. Plant tall leggy plants deep in the soil. Blanch the head (tie 3 or 4 leaves together to protect the head) when it gets to be the size of a goose egg. If it is a self blanching variety, it will not blanch in warm weather. Leave at least 18 inches between all plants.
3.- Lettuce – Most lettuce are very hardy. They grow in three main types crisphead (iceberg), butterhead (romaine), and leaf (simpson). Crisphead is the hardest to grow, butterhead is next, and leaf is incredibly easy to grow. You can usually sow directly in the garden 5-6 weeks before the last frost date. Plant 1/4 – 1/2 inch deep and 2 inces apart, then when it gets 2 sets of “true” leaves thin to 6-8 inches apart. There are many color varieties to chose from as well. Don’t let these shallow rooted plants dry out.
4.- Brussels Sprouts – These are very hardy. They like cool weather but, if it’s too cool for too long or in warmer weather they will produce sprouts that are a bit on the bitter side. Plant them in the garden about 5 weeks before the last frost date from seedlings you started indoors about 6 weeks earlier. Plant leggy ones deep in the soil at least 18 inches apart. They like well drained soil.
5.- Swiss Chard – Is a hardy vegetable. It is basically a beet without the bottom. Plant directly in the garden about 1-2 weeks before the last frost date. They like cool weather, but they tolerate heat better than spinach. Plant seeds 2-4 inches apart about 1/2 inch deep and then thin to 8-12 inches apart when they are big enough to handle.They like moist, rich soil. Swiss Chard does not like acid soil so go neutral.
6.- Turnips – Turnips are a hardy plant. They like moist rich soil and are used for the root and the greens. They do not transplant well so put them in the garden about 1-2 weeks before the last frost. Too much nitrogen in the soil will produce more leaves and not such a big root. sow seeds about 1/2 – 1 inch deep about 2-3 inches apart , then thin to 3-5 inches apart. Pick the outer greens as the plants mature for greens. when the root is 3-4 inches in diameter you can harvest. You want to get turnips to mature as quickly as possible the longer they take to mature the more “woody” the root.
7.- Broccoli – Broccoli is a very hardy plant. It likes cool weather, but if it is held in check by severe frost, lack of moisture, or heat it will bolt without making a head. They love moist, rich well drained soil. Start indoors from seed 12 weeks before the last frost date , then a week of hardening off and then to the garden about 5 weeks before the last frost date. Plant tall leggy plants deep at least 18 inches apart. Keep them in the cool weather. Harvest the main head at about 50-60 days and subsequent smaller heads for a few weeks after that.
So here are 7 great garden plants that will just love to get an early start on the season. There are many many more that enjoy the cool weather as well including beets, parsnips, kale, and spinach to name a few. We all love to get in the garden as early as possible. So use some of these vegetables in the cool of spring or winter and they will not let you down.
Here on our homestead we farm organically and encourage you to do the same. For the beginner it can be a daunting challenge. It doesn’t have to be. We highly recommend getting a book on beginner organic gardening to take directly into the garden with you. Get one of the very best, which we have used ourselves when we first started out, by Clicking Here! or click on the picture below.
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Peace and Prosperity,
Rich @ NY Homesteader