Spring gardens fix the ills of winter. They get us out in the sunshine and fresh air when we most need it and they give us a reason to get up just a little earlier and take some deep breaths before starting off a busy day. The joys of the spring garden are found in tiny tips of green breaking through the soil. For this reason I think it is necessary to plant radishes, even if you hate them! What child would not be over joyed to see the seed leaves of these plants pop out so soon after planting (and we are all children at heart.) And image the fun of picking the first radishes three weeks after planting! Many a Mom or Dad had to develop a taste for radishes in early spring.
There are all kinds of radishes, most red or white, but some kids might get a kick out of planting the pastel Easter Egg radishes that mature into pink, lavender and purple shades and do look like they belong in an Easter basket. I love to grow radishes so much that I have developed a real taste for them in salads and as a crispy snack. Just wash them and cut the root off and place in a bowl of water in the refrigerator for a few hours for a really great low cal snack. Radishes can be planted every week so that there is always a new crop to harvest...follow directions on seed pack for distances. Harvest when the red tip of the globe can be seen just pushing out of the ground. Look for the largest, always picking them so they don't get too big or hot. Remember that they must be picked often and kept in the refrigerator. They do not grow well when it gets very hot so plan to plant a few again in late August for a fall crop (since it is said that radishes protect beans from insects, it is a good idea to sow the last ones in with the beans, alternating seeds.)
Another early crop that I usually plant all summer is beets. they are not quite as easy as radishes, but will germinate well if not allowed to dry out. They usually can start to be picked about a month and a half after planting if the weather has been good and they grow quickly. I plant these all summer and have had them for harvesting as late as Christmas (for my Christmas Eve soup).
For many gardeners spring is here when the peas are planted. These cool weather plants mature in about two months if weather is good. Plant them now, with a second row a week or two later so they don't all mature at once. If the June weather is cool and you water them well you will have a great crop. There are many different kinds of peas, but many gardeners now opt for the edible pod varieties. These are crisp and can be used small in salads or larger in stir fries. Again, like any of the others seeds, water them after planting and continue to do so if we don't have ample spring rain. Seeds don't sprout if they don't have water.
Add a few unusual lettuces to the garden, choosing some of the heat tolerant varieties to extend the harvest. Many of the leaf lettuces will continue long past the time when the head lettuces mature. I love to grow at least 5 or 6 kinds including the loose leaf, the red, oak leaf, Romaine and one of the Bibb or butter heads. There is nothing like picking fresh lettuce or spinach for a great garden salad. Plant both now if you haven't already done so. Many of the seed companies are including three kinds in a packet so that you can try smaller varieties of different kinds. I like the Renee's Gardens seeds because there are so many different ones and they are packed up so I can try several varieties without buying a pack of each. Start early this spring garden and enjoy working in cool weather with plants that mature quickly. Spring crops are the easiest, fastest and most reliable for the home gardener who is often most enthusiastic at this time of the year.
Lorraine Kiefer is the owner of Triple Oaks Nursery and has been a garden writer since 1972. Click here to email her.
Garden Articles Lorraine Kiefer has been a garden writer since 1972 and has hundreds of articles about plants, crafts, and traditions. Enjoy!
Weddings Let Triple Oaks Florist arrange perfect flowers for your perfect day.
Plant Guide Learn about the plants we commonly carry. Note: This isn't our inventory, just a guide.
Florist Valentine's Day, Brithdays, Weddings, Funerals, you name the occasion and we'll make the flowers.