Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

Early Spring Vegetables to Plant

Some hardy spring vegetables, such as spinach, peas, beets, carrots and lettuce, actually grow best in cool temperatures and need to be planted ahead of other crops. Also, waiting too late to plant cool-weather vegetables will risk not reaping a full season of their harvest. Even worse, planting cool weather crops too late can result in the plants not maturing before the weather becomes too hot.


Spinach can be planted about four to six weeks before the normal time of a late frost. Spinach plants do best with light potting soil that barely covers seeds. It's also important to keep seeds evenly misted during germination. Because spinach tastes best when it is not over harvested, crops should be picked as soon as its leaves are mature.


Peas are an exceptionally hardy vegetable that can even be planted when snow is on the ground. For best results, seeds should be planted directly into the soil as early as two months before the average date when all frost is gone. Seeds should be planted close together, allowing only 2 to 4 inches between seeds, according to the Normally, most peas mature in roughly 60 days. If peas aren't harvested when they’re mature, overdeveloped peas can become starchy and stringy.


Beets taste better when planted early because their roots can become woody and tough when temperatures are hotter, giving them a strange taste. For best results, plant beet seeds up to a month prior to the average date of the last frost. Space seeds about 3 to 4 inches apart. Usually beets mature in about 45 to 60 days. Check the size of the roots after six weeks from planting by scraping off some soil. For optimal flavor, roots shouldn’t grow any larger than2 inches in width.


Carrots take longer to germinate than most vegetables. This cool-weather vegetable can be grown in heavy soils, although the soil tends to split their roots, forming abnormal shapes. Seeds can be sown directly into soil up to a month before the date of the last frost. Because carrot germination can be spotty, it's beneficial to sow more seeds than needed and then thin out plants when the first true leaves start appearing.


Although lettuce is an easily grown vegetable, it needs plenty of food, preferring soil with a 6.5 pH or higher. Most home gardeners grow heading lettuce because it’s easier to grow than leaf lettuce. Plants need to grow in partial shade if grown in a hotter climate. Seeds can be planted directly into the soil up to six weeks before the time of the average last frost. Seeds should be sprinkled directly on rich soil and barely covered with light potting. Lettuce can be harvested when there are enough leaves on a plant for sustaining continued growth.

Garden Guides