How to Plant Vegetables in Early Spring

Cauliflower is a cool season vegetable. image by dria peterson/


Early spring is the time to start planting vegetables like lettuce, peas, spinach and broccoli. While nighttime and even some daytime frost is still in the weather reports, these vegetables prefer cool weather and don't mind a light frost. You must remain on your guard for hard frost and act accordingly to protect your plants, but otherwise early spring crops' requirements are much the same as those of later growing vegetables. If you can't wait to get in the garden, include early spring vegetables in your gardening plans.

Step 1

Work the vegetable beds in autumn before the ground freezes. Remove all dead vegetation and work fresh compost into the soil. Cover with a 4-inch layer of straw mulch to speed ground thawing in the spring.

Step 2

Remove the mulch once daytime temperatures are above freezing in spring. Dig to a 10-inch depth to check that the soil is thawed all the way and there are no ice crystals still present. Commence planting once the soil is thawed.

Step 3

Sow the vegetable seeds directly in the garden following package instructions for each particular variety. Generally, seeds are sown to a depth twice that of their height with fine seeds being sown directly on the soil surface and covered with a quarter-inch layer of soil.

Step 4

Water after planting and keep the soil moist at all times during the growing period. Use a mister attachment on your garden hose to avoid washing away the seeds or dislodging seedlings.

Step 5

Cover the plants with an upside-down bucket, cloche or other protective covering if frost is predicted. Use coverings that do not touch the plants because they will damage them. Remove the covering as soon as the temperature warms or the plants will cook under the covering.

Step 6

Fertilize each plant with a general purpose fertilizer four weeks after they sprout to encourage crop production. Follow fertilization recommendations for each plant type thereafter.

Step 7

Harvest each vegetable as it is ready instead of waiting for the entire crop to ripen. This encourages further production plus most cool weather crops quickly go to seed or quit producing once the weather warms later in the spring.

Tips and Warnings

  • If planting seedlings outdoors, harden them off first to avoid killing them. Place them outside for a few hours each day for a week or two. Make sure your vegetable beds do not collect snow run-off in the spring because this might drown or freeze your plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Straw mulch
  • Buckets
  • Fertilizer


  • Earth Easy
  • University of Minnesota Extension
Keywords: spring vegetable, winter gardening, early season planting

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.

Photo by: dria peterson/