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  • Heidi Falter

Easy To Grow Plants - You should try this spring!



It's not too late to add a splash of color to your garden. If you didn't get your bulbs planted in the fall, don't worry. You can still get some plants going this spring. Assuming your ground has thawed or you are using planters, these plants are perfect for planting in the spring, and will fully blossom just in time for the warm summer weather.


Lettuce

Lettuce is among the easiest early spring veggie to plant. While you can purchase starter plants from your local nursery and transplant them into the garden, it’s far less expensive – and easier – to start your own plants from seed.

There are thousands of different varieties of lettuce, each offering a subtly different flavor, leaf color, texture, and shape. But, no matter which varieties you choose to plant, seeds can be sown directly into the garden as early as eight weeks before the last expected spring frost. For a continual crop of lettuce, sow more seeds every two to four weeks until summer temperatures arrive.

Space lettuce seeds approximately a half-inch apart, at a depth of a quarter inch. If full-sized lettuce heads are desired, thin the seedlings to six inches when they form their first true leaves. If you plan to harvest baby lettuce greens, there’s no need to thin the resulting seedlings; simply snip off the young leaves as you need them.

For more abundant lettuce try starting your seeds in the Big Bag Bed Mini or 7 Gallon Smart Pot. Not only will you grow more lettuce, you’ll find the process simple and easy to do.


Kale

Often called a “superfood” for its nutritional punch, kale is a great early spring vegetable to plant. It isn’t the least bit bothered by the cold temperatures of spring and will produce edible leaves just a month after planting.

To grow kale as a spring vegetable, sow seeds directly into the garden as soon as the soil temperature reaches 40 degrees F. Bury the seeds one-half inch deep, and space them an inch apart. Unless you plan to harvest only the baby greens, thin the seedlings to six to eight inches apart.

Kale leaves can be eaten raw in salads or cooked in stir fries and soups. Try some fun-colored or frilly-leaved varieties to bring a unique touch of color and texture to the kitchen.


Radish

This is another spring vegetable well worth growing, especially because store-bought radishes pale in comparison to homegrown roots in the flavor department. With their spicy flavor and crisp texture, radishes come in a surprisingly diverse array of colors and shapes.

For good root formation, radish must be planted in the very early spring or late in the fall, when temperatures are cool. Ready to harvest in just three to five weeks, radishes seldom disappoint. For continuous production, plant a row of radish every two weeks throughout the spring and harvest the roots while they’re still small.

Sow seeds a half-inch deep and one inch apart. Thin the seedlings to two inches as crowded plants do not result in superior roots. Do not apply nitrogen-rich fertilizers to areas where radish or other root crops are planted as the plants will produce excessive green growth at the expense of high-quality roots.


Broccoli

Like many other members of the cabbage family, including cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts, broccoli is an excellent early spring veggie. While you can grow broccoli by directly sowing the seeds into the garden, the plants require more time to mature than some other spring vegetables and may not produce quality heads before hot weather arrives. To accommodate for this, broccoli is best grown from starter plants purchased at your local nursery, or by starting the seeds indoors, under grow lights, about four to six weeks before they’re ready to be transplanted outside.

Regardless of whether you grow your own plants or purchase them from a nursery, young broccoli seedlings can go out into the garden four to six weeks before the last expected spring frost. Space plants one to two feet apart for maximum head size.

Broccoli grows best when temperatures are in the 60s; hot temperatures can promote premature bolting (flowering) and a slightly bitter flavor. The plants are tolerant of frosts, and if you live south of USDA Zone 7, fall-grown broccoli plants will often survive the winter and produce a secondary crop.

Planting early spring vegetables brings both sanity to the winter-weary gardener and homegrown goodness to the kitchen.

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