Vegetables that Enjoy the Cool, Early Weather of Spring

Start them early, but enjoy them for weeks.

Spring is a hectic time for gardeners, but planting a spring vegetable garden will pay off in big dividends. Fresh picked vegetables are never more welcome than after a long gray winter. Spring temperatures are a bit too chilly and the ground is still too damp for many vegetables to be planted, but there are a handful of hardy performers that can go in the garden, even before the last frost date has passed. As an extra bonus, there are fewer insects and disease pests around in early spring, so...MORE you vegetables should get off to a good start.

The first vine ripened tomato may still be a few months away, but there’s plenty to keep you busy in the vegetable garden. Take advantage of the cool, wet weather of spring to put in multiple crops of peas and lettuce. It’s also a great time to get your perennial vegetables, like asparagus and rhubarb, started.

  • 01 of 05
    Growing Asparagus
    Photo: © Marie Iannotti

    There are many perennial vegetables - vegetables you can plant once and harvest for many years to come - but we only seem to grow a handful of them in our gardens. It's true you have to devote space to them, sometimes for decades, but it's worth it. Asparagus plants get more productive every year and a mature harvest can last for months. Looking forward to the first tender, pencil sized spears of asparagus poking through in the garden is a rite of spring. If you thought you didn’t like...MORE asparagus, you haven’t tried it freshly picked.

  • 02 of 05
    Growing lettuce
    Carol Sharp Corbis/ Documentary/ Getty Images

    The cool, wet weather of Spring is the perfect time to grow lettuce and there are hundreds of varieties to choose from. Lettuce may take a little protection to get it going in the early spring, but, oh, it never tastes better than when it’s grown in the crisp spring air. You will get the earliest and longest harvest  from the cut-and-come-again varieties. Lettuce may require a little frost protection in spring, but it won’t bolt and you will probably have time for 2-3 succession plantings.

  • 03 of 05
    Sugar-Snap-Peas.jpg

    There’s a tradition of planting the first peas on St. Patrick’s Day. Many of us don’t always get to take part in that tradition because of the snow covering our vegetable gardens. However even in years when you can manage to get out there early, the peas planted later in April will quickly catch up to the peas planted in March. Peas don't like freezing temperature, but they really do not like heat. So don’t miss the window of opportunity. Get out their and plant a crop of your favorites,...MORE whether its shelling peas, snow peas or sugar snap peas.

  • 04 of 05
    Growing Rhubarb
    Photo: © Marie Iannotti

    Rhubarb is a vegetable we prepare like a fruit and it is the first sweet "fruit" of the season. Rhubarb is another perennial gem of the vegetable garden. It really is a shame rhubarb is so underused in cooking, because it’s very easy to grow. Once you get your bed established, you can look forward to a rhubarb harvest every spring. One word of warning: the rhubarb crown quickly turns into a very dense brick that is hard to divide. If you need to move your rhubarb or want to divide the...MORE plant, do it while the plant is young.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05
    Growing Spinach
    Getty Images

    Spinach must be grown in cool weather or it will quickly bolt to seed. There are varieties that claim to be bolt-resistant, but sooner or later, (usually sooner), they all go to seed. Luckily it also grows extremely quickly - which means you don’t have to wait long to enjoy it, but you’ll also have to keep planting new spinach, to extend the harvest. Getting spinach to grow is easy. Keeping your spinach growing takes some extra care, but it's worth it. Fresh spinach is crisper, tangier and...MORE more tender than any you'll find in a cellophane bag. And it can grow in the shade of crops that will be taking off just as your spinach fades.