Cool Weather Vegetable Gardening

If you’re like most gardeners, you find it hard to wait for the weather to warm up so you can get outside and start planting.
Particularly in the case of vegetable gardening, but most plants can’t go in the ground until the weather warms up significantly and the danger of frost has passed.

Have you considered planting some cool weather vegetable crops that can be sown as early as several weeks before the last expected frost date?

Cool weather vegetables can be a great way to get a head start on the season’s plantings. Cool-season veggies grow best at temperatures averaging 15° cooler than those needed by warm season types.
Not only can cool weather veggies keep your planting areas productive for more months of the year, they will also allow you to get out in the garden earlier in the spring.
Let’s explore a few varieties of cool weather vegetables that you might want to try growing in your garden this spring.

Carrots:
Anyone who has said they don’t like carrots has probably never tasted fresh carrots out of a homegrown vegetable garden.
Carrots are a really good crop to start early in the year because they are resistant to cold temperatures.
You can sow carrot seeds directly in the garden as early as the soil can be worked.
Good soil preparation is very important if you want to have good looking carrots.
If there are rocks or sticks in the top several inches of soil, your carrots will become misshapen because they will have to grow around these obstacles.

Once your carrot seeds have germinated, be sure to thin them out early, while
the plants are still small. Harvest the plants while they are still young to get the best tasting carrots. If carrots stay in the soil too long, they will become tough and less flavorful.

Lettuce:
Lettuce has become a very popular homegrown crop because it’s so easy to grow.
Lettuce prefers cool temperatures, so it can also be started early in the year. There
are many different varieties of lettuce to choose from.

Lettuce seeds can be sown directly in the garden or they a good choice for container gardening.They can be grown in planter boxes on a porch or patio.
The one important thing to keep in mind about growing lettuce-the plants won’t last all summer long. Lettuce should be planted in the early spring because it will quickly die off in the hot midsummer temperatures.

If you have an area of your
garden where you are growing perennials, you should consider planting your lettuce there in the
early spring, while there’s still plenty of space. By the time those perennials
start getting bigger, your lettuce crop will be just about done for the year, and can be removed.

Spinach:
Spinach, just like lettuce, is another leafy vegetable that grows best in cool spring
temperatures. Spinach seeds can also be sown directly in the garden as early as the
soil can be worked or as a container garden plant.
Tip: For an ongoing crop, you can continue sowing additional spinach seeds at 10 day intervals until the weather becomes too warm for the plants.
If you direct sow, remember that young spinach plants are a favorite of rabbits, so if these garden
pests become a problem in your yard, you may have to install chicken wire fencing around your garden area. Another option is to sprinkle bloodmeal around the plants. Many animals, including rabbits, will not cross a line of bloodmeal.

Peas:
Sometimes called Green Peas, Sweet Peas, Early Peas or English Peas.
These peas are another cool weather favorite, growing easily from early spring until the weather becomes too warm for the plant to tolerate.
One of the best things about these peas is that they are a vining plant, meaning they will grow vertically upward. This means that they take up a very small amount of your garden real estate, while still producing heavily.
Peas should be sown directly in the garden as
early as the soil can be worked. One good method is to plant your peas in long
rows, and once the plants germinate, provide a fence of plastic netting or
chicken wire alongside the row for the plants to grow upon. It’s also considered a good
idea to add a thick layer of mulch to the established pea vines to help keep the roots cool and to retain soil moisture.

Carrots, lettuce, spinach, and peas are just a few examples of cool weather
vegetables. There are many other vegetables in addition to these that can be
planted early in the spring. With a little experimentation, you’ll be able to
find a mix of cool weather veggies that you can grow early in the year to make
better use of your garden space and to give your green thumb an early spring workout.

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