Growing your own food is one of the noblest and satisfying productive activities you can engage in. There are few things as rewarding as that feeling of self-sufficiency, especially if you’ve recently been stressing out over electricity bills, landlords or unpaid overtime. However, if you go organic (and there are plenty of sources stating that you should), it’s not the easiest hobby to pick up, and I’ll explain why.
When a vegetable is grown organically, it means a few things. Various products you may want to use are off limits, including food additives, man-made pesticides, fertilizers and GMO organisms. Basically, you have to treat your plant to the same things we used for agriculture ages ago; manure, hand weeding, non-eco-aggressive pest control.
The idea here is to make growing your produce a safe, healthy and sustainable practice, without potentially endangering your health through consumption (though a lot of people argue against this idea, claiming that non-organically grown vegetables are equally healthy).
So, what are you interested in growing? There are plenty of options once spring rolls around, and you may not be able to comfortably accommodate every plant in your garden, depending on your circumstances.
Let’s look at the veggies and see what we can unearth.
Known to be one of the easiest and most forgiving vegetables to grow, radishes are ready to be consumed in around three weeks! (I personally tested this) That’s ludicrously fast, especially for people who mistakenly believe every vegetable takes months and months to grow.
They’re also simple to raise. Work the soil, then plant the seeds half an inch deep and one inch apart. This gives them all the space they need to form crunchy radishes. If you can keep away cabbage maggots, your veggies will have no obstacles keeping them from growing. These little guys will primarily attack cabbage (of course), but won't hold back to attack radishes as well.
A pretty versatile vegetable, radishes can be slapped into various salads and stir-fry recipes without a single issue. Because of their short maturing period, radishes are grown during the whole year, but spring is their prime time. Salads with radishes have that distinctive taste, and provide texture and aroma. They are the most flavorful when grown in April.
Another spring staple, peas have very few demands when it comes to growing your own organic produce. Pea is basically “set-it-and-forget-it” vegetable, which will surprise you with its distinct color and texture in the middle of spring.
They’re ideally planted around four weeks before the last expected frost (most likely February, depending on the region), as their seeds don’t benefit from being planted earlier than that (this is the case for a lot of veggies). Of course, they will require full sun, so it is vital not to plant them in shade. pH value is important, so do not let it go to “too acidic”, keep it in range between 5.8 and 7.0.
When planting peas, soak the seeds in water the night before, and loosen the top 8 inches of soil. Peas are best grown below 70 degrees F, in drained soil, rich in humus. Install a trellis to help the peas grow (remember, they want to hold onto something). They are planted around an inch apart. Keep them moist and watch them grow into healthy peas.
Some people tend to overdo with the manure; keep this at minimum, because it will help the plant grow, but the pods will overgrow, rendering them somewhat less tasty.
One of the most versatile vegetables found in most kitchens, potatoes have participated in some of the greatest dishes in history. For this reason, I have decided to give a try on this amazing plant. Surely, I had to provide enough room and well-aerated soil, with pH between 5.2 and 6.4. When it comes to sunlight, potatoes are somewhat unusual. They need it, but I knew that I must be careful, and not let any tubers sit under the sun. if it happens, throw some soil on it.
They’re planted around two or three weeks before the last frost date for optimal results. Plant them inch-deep in somewhat loosened soil, and hope for mild temperatures (pretty likely in springtime, don’t worry). They need around 90 days (fully grown), 80 (mid season) or 70 (young) to grow, so plan accordingly.
On top of being delicious, carrots are said to improve your eyesight, so it’s easy to see (pun intended) why you’d want to incorporate them into your garden schemes. Growing carrots is easy if you follow a couple of easy steps.
Before planting them (around three weeks before the last frost date), make sure the soil is thoroughly loosened. This is especially important if you have clay soil, to the point where you might want to get some compost involved to reduce resistance further. pH should be kept in range between 6.3 and 6.8, and I had to do my best to hit that golden middle. Although carrots thrive in the sun, I had to give them some shade during hottest hours.
No rocks or big chunks allowed! After that, plant the seeds and keep the soil moist. After the germination point, add mulch to preserve extra moisture. Fish emulsion can be used to feed the carrots during their growth, but much like water, it’s not recommended to provide too much. Otherwise, your carrots will look like pitchforks.
If you’re frying something, the chances are that some yellow onion helps the dish stand out. The longer you cook onion, the sweeter it becomes. Standard yellow onions are planted as bulbs, not seeds. The bulbs need to be small, odorless and free of any bruises or cuts.
Green onions (or scallions) are planted using seeds and are also harvested sooner. Prepare the soil by applying manure as fertilizer months before planting. Aim to plant yellow onion bulbs around one inch deep. Speaking of soil, it should be low with sulfur, and a bit loamy. Of course, it is needed to prepare the soil, so I had to start implementing manure four weeks in advance.
Ideally, you should apply fertilizer next to the plants, until the bulb starts showing itself on the surface. If you apply fertilizer directly, it could damage the plant and slow down or stop its growth. But more than fertilizer, onion requires sunlight. The most sun-hungry are varieties which need 13-14 hours of it. Therefore, plan in according to this.
If you have children, this veggie is probably underappreciated in your home. Broccoli works in various stir-fry recipes, as part of soups and other such dishes. It is planted eight weeks before the last spring frost, ideally indoors.
On the other hand, I have opted to grow them in my garden, so the soil had to be brought to range between 6.0 and 7.0 pH value. Also, since broccoli doesn't like sunlight much, I have planned for it to be ready in May.
Four weeks before the last frost, properly plant all of it in your garden as intended, to get the best results. 12-24 inches apart is a good way to organize your space. If you added a healthy dose of compost or manure while preparing your soil, you don’t need to feed during the growth period. Make sure you water enough and keep an eye out for weeds.
Spinach grows extremely quickly and is one of the healthiest veggies you could have in your diet. Known for being very easy to harvest by only taking outer, older leaves and letting the younger stuff keep growing, spinach is not a demanding customer.
All you need is well-draining soil and liberal application of organic plant food like fish emulsion (the faster they grow, the hungrier they are) to let the spinach produce dark, striking leaves in no time. Also, spinach is one of the most versatile veggies, since it can endure temperatures from 20°F to 90°F, but doesn't love too much sunlight. Unusually warm spring caught me off-guard, so I had to provide some shade covers.
An extra bonus is the ability to easily grow spinach in a container (especially useful if your garden has no more space or you’re worried about lawn pests). It works exactly as usual, except you want to water a bit more frequently.
Cabbage is one of those imposing vegetables you see almost immediately upon entering the fresh produce section of a grocery store. It’s a versatile veggie, so you can adapt it to a ton of different dishes.
Seeds tend to be more efficient than seedlings here, and it’s recommended that you start the cabbage off in-doors (roughly 6 weeks before the last frost period). Similar to broccoli (they are relatives, after all), cabbage requires colder temperature, between 39°F and 75°F, so avoiding late summer is good advice. Also, it will need pH between 6.0 and 6.8.
You can re-plant your cabbage in your garden as soon as the soil is workable. Water thoroughly but not too often. Otherwise you risk the cabbage bursting open. Feeding the cabbage every three weeks also helps out a ton.
Known among children as “white carrots,” parsnips are a good choice, and they’re even easier to grow than carrots. Plant them in mid-spring from fresh seeds, around half an inch deep.
The ideal soil is pretty loose and somewhat acidic (at 6.0 to 6.5 pH). Well-drained soil prevents the roots from rotting from excessive moisture.
Water regularly and thoroughly (not necessarily often – less frequent but deeper watering is preferred) and destroy any weeds that want to move into your parsnips’ real-estate. Also, if you prefer sweeter taste, cover it with straw and let few frosts to get over them. These conditions will turn starch inside the root into sugar.
One of the more challenging spring veggies, cauliflower nonetheless participates in some absolutely mind-melting dishes, so it’s worth growing, especially if you’re ambitious. First of all, the soil needs to be rich in organic matter. It is similar in demands with the cabbage, so having one next to another may help you greatly.
This is a good idea in general, so make it happen! The tougher part here is that you both want a well-draining soil and a decent level of consistent moisture. What I really had to be careful about is the Sun. Since cauliflower thrives in cold conditions (70°F–85°F) I had to provide shade covers several times, in order to prevent a disaster.
At least one inch of water per week is required, along with organic foods like kelp. Expect to see healthy produce in up to three months if you’ve done all this correctly.
Going by looks alone, not everyone would be able to guess that this veggie belongs to the sunflower family. As such, you should expect artichoke plants to perform best in full sunlight (although they also tolerate some partial shade in hotter, drier regions).
Much like with cauliflower, you want a well-draining soil rich in organic matter. Start the seeds off in-doors around eight weeks before the last frost date, but don’t wait too long to plant them properly in the garden. Give them a healthy dose of moisture and feed once every 2-3 weeks for optimal results. Keep track of pH value as well; it must be in range between 6.5 and 7.0.
Didn’t expect this one mentioned in the context of spring produce, did you? Yes, while pumpkins are generally associated with the fall period (mostly because of a certain spooky holiday), they should be planted in late spring.
Obviously, given the size of these things, you want to give your pumpkins a lot of space in well-drained soil, and ideally with some good air circulation. pH value of the soil must be between 6.5 and 6.8 (this index gets narrower and narrower, isn’t it?)
Pumpkins require a lot of feeding, so a smart way to do things is to enrich the soil using manure a few weeks before planting begins. They also require regular watering, but do not overdo it; it can and will spoil the taste. Once the fruits are developed, gradually reduce the amount of water.
There are few culinary pleasures like a bit of pickled beet in the summer. The sweet, strong taste is enough to enhance a plethora of otherwise bland dishes, and the vegetable is pretty quick to grow, too!
Place the seeds one inch deep and about three inches apart. Beetroots can get a bit stiff if the soil is too dry, so try to give them some moisture regularly. After a while, you’ll have to split the growing stalks into two or three separate plants, since each beet seed is actually several seeds in one!
With all of this done, your beets will quickly creep up on you, ripe for the pick(l)ing. In case that you provided pH of the soil between 6.0 and 7.5, that is. And partially shady area as well.
Desired worldwide for its aromatic properties, a good dose of leeks can really boost the taste of soups and casseroles. Planted either in early spring or late summer, leeks don’t have a lot of demands in general. Soil rich in organic matter does half the work for you.
The other half would be approximately the same conditions as for the onions. Full sun, proper watering (but not too much) and loamy ground with small sulfur index.
All you need to provide after that is weeding and watering services. One inch per week is enough to keep your leeks happy. Also, keep a close look and do not let Thrips tabaci to get a move on it. They can ruin the whole harvest.
Spring really seems to favor the easier veggies, huh? As long as your soil is fertile, well-drained and loose, and there is full sun available, the lettuce thrives with minimal assistance.
As one of the few veggies that don’t require planting before the last frost date (though you can still do this if you wish), lettuce is a fairly adaptable plant and a great choice for beginner gardeners. Therefore, checking the pH of the soil and keeping it in range 6.0-6.8 is great exercise for beginners as well.
Watering should be done frequently, typically as soon as the surface inch of soil has dried out. Feeding is equally important, even if your soil is rich. The fish emulsion will help your lettuce thrive more than nearly anything else, since it provides a lot of nitrogen, which is crucial for proper development.
Hopefully, this article was able to help you choose a preferred set of top 15 organic vegetables you can grow in spring. Remember, variety is the spice of life, and one of the best ways to contribute to a healthy diet is to raise varied and interesting vegetables. Luckily, spring gives you an amazing selection, so get creative and excited!
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