Now that Spring is here, we have a fully stocked Veggie & Fruit selection at the nursery. Lettuce, Peas, Carrots... you name it, chances are, we have it!
Keep reading below for tips on some of the easiest crops to grow at home this time of year.
1. LETUCE: sure, it's everywhere... farmers markets, grocery stores, door dash... but it definitely tastes best when its freshly picked right out of the garden.
Lettuce can be sown directly in your garden bed, or started indoors for transplanting. It’s one of the few crops that can be grown all year, but in hot weather it should be shaded and harvested at smaller sizes. Lettuce growth slows in shade; it is also slower to go to seed, or “bolt,” which means that it can be harvested for longer. Bolted lettuce is bitter. However, in our home garden we always let some lettuce bolt to collect seed, plus our dogs are absolutely obsessed with eating it, so its a "win win" for us all.
An endless assortment of leaf shapes and shades of green and red means you’ll never get tired of growing new lettuce varieties. Leaf lettuces can be cut as they grow, and you can enjoy several harvests from the same plant by just snipping off what you need each time.
If you want full heads of romaine and head lettuce to develop, thin them. Allow for 8 to 10 inches between plants. As you thin young plants, save the delicate small leaves for salads.
2. RADISHES: spicy, crisp & a natural pest deterrent, plus they are so easy to grow! Radishes can be harvested in as little as 24 days after planting, and can be inter-planted with slower-growing vegetables. You can plant radishes as soon as you can work the soil in the spring.
Sow each seed 2 inches apart or more, or thin them to this spacing after they sprout. Cover the seeds with about half an inch of compost or soil.
Here’s a tip: Radish seeds are natural companions to carrots. Mix radish seeds with carrot seeds before you sow, especially if your soil tends to develop a tough crust. The quick-to-sprout radishes will push up through the soil, breaking it up for the later-sprouting carrots. As you harvest the radishes, the carrots will fill in the row.
3. CARROTS: I am including carrots in this list only because they’re super easy to grow as long as they’re planted in loose, sandy soil during the cooler periods of the growing season—spring and fall (depending on your growing area, at home we grow them year round). Not all carrots are orange; varieties range in color from purple to white, and some are resistant to diseases and pests.
Many beginners find their carrots are short and deformed. This is typically due to poor, rocky soil, so it’s important to provide soft, loose soil that drains well. Mix in some sand and really loosen it up. Also, it is essential to THIN carrot seedlings to the proper spacing so that they’re not overcrowded. Be bold! Thin those seedlings if you want carrots to form properly.
4. KALE: Like it or not, super-nutritious kale is very hardy and can grow in a wide range of temperatures. It can be harvested at many different stages, and the buds and flowers are edible, too!
Set out plants any time, from early spring to early summer and kale will grow until it gets too hot. Another nice thing about kale is that it only gets sweeter after being hit by a couple frosts. Try kale baked, stir-fried, or steamed. Enjoy in salads, smoothies, omelets, casseroles, or wherever you’d use spinach. Watch out for aphids, they LOVE kale too.
5. CHARD: Swiss chard—or simply “chard”—is a member of the beet family. It does well in both cool and warm weather. It is a nutritional superfood, high in vitamins A, C, and K as well as minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber—plus, its rainbow of colors are beautiful! Watch out for leaf miners, they LOVE chard. Use insecticidal soap at the first sign of those little buggers and you will be good to go. We once had a 5 year old chard plant in out raised bed that was stretched over 6 feet across!