Spring Crops




Beets Broccoli Brussel Sprouts Cabbage Cauliflower Carrots Cress
Lettuce Onions Peas Potatoes Radishes Salad Greens Spinach


Spring is a delightful time to start gardening.  However, it is best not to get spring fever too quickly!!!  Even though these plants like cool, wet weather, it takes 50 degree temperature to germinate most seeds.  I usually plant during the first warm spell in late February or early March. Some early birds will plant peas in January but they really don’t harvest peas before the ones who plant later since plants take a certain amount of light hours to grow.  I feel April is too late for early season crops.  It gets too hot before they are ready for harvest and bugs/worms become a problem.  I do not care for meat with my broccoli!

If the temperature drops into the 30’s be safe and cover your tender plants.  Milk jugs or gallon plastic vegetable jugs (my preference as they are heavier than milk jugs and don’t break as easily) work great for covering tomatoes, peppers, etc. Be sure to leave the lid off for ventilation.


You can also cover plants with a sheet or lightweight row cover.  The important thing is to keep the frost off the plant.  If it does frost on your plants you can save them (if it isn’t too cold) by spraying them with water BEFORE the sun comes up.  Once the sun hits the plant it is too late.


Tilling the soil while it is still too wet is one of the biggest mistakes people, including myself, are tempted to make.  If you do, you will battle hard clods and compacted soil all season.  It will be unforgiving!!!   The most ideal situation is to plow the soil in late fall or early winter.  Freezing and thawing temperatures soften and mellow the soil.  When you are ready to plant in the spring, all you have to do is till.


Some helpful gardening terms:

  • Row planting:  carefully placing seeds in a row-a V shaped trench pushed through the soil in a straight line.  Cover seeds with 1 inch of soil.
  • Block planting:  sprinkling seeds in a block shaped area -say 4’x4′.  This saves space and is easier when planting fine seeds of salad, lettuce, radishes, etc.  that can take up a lot of space in a row.  I till the soil until it is fine and smooth.  Sprinkle seeds over the block area like you are putting pepper on an egg.  Stir area with a rake to lightly cover seeds.
  • Frost date:  May 10th is considered the last spring frost date for the central Virginia area.  However, remember that depending on the season this can vary.  This year-2013 it frosted on May 13th! It can catch you unprepared!!!  
  • Raised Beds & Container Gardening:  There are different ways to make raised beds.  They make wonderful miniature, easy to manage gardens, especially where space is limited.
  • Straw Gardening:  This is another neat concept of gardening and is catching a lot of attention.

It is probably safe to say that all the crops planted in the spring also make good fall crops.  Some actually do better in the fall as the weather is getting cooler instead of hotter and there is less problem with insects and disease.

Pat’s 2002 Spring Gardening Calendar 

Date Plant/Harvest
February 20 Pruned grape vine
February 23 Tilled garden. Planted: peas, radishes, onions, lettuce (leaf & head), cabbage plants & spinach
March 29 (Good Friday) Planted potatoes.  Decided to plant by “old timers” Almanac… dark moon for root crops.
April 8 Started eating spring onions
April 13 Started harvesting asparagus
April 18 Had fresh Buttercrunch head lettuce, spring onions, and radishes for supper. Noticed strawberries starting to bloom and potatoes are up. This is best stand of potatoes I’ve had for several years and they are up quicker!!!  Dark moon planting must work!
April 20 Noticed peas starting to bloom.  That means it is 2-3 weeks to harvest time!
April 27 Hilled potatoes.  They are approx. 10″ tall.
May 7 Picked first strawberriesPlanted second crop of Oakleaf Lettuce, radishes and onions.  I have never planted this late but decided to try it with all the cool weather and rain we are having.  I don’t have anything to lose but a few seeds!
May 10 Picked first strawberries and peas. This is a wonderful pea year with the cool weather and rain.  I believe my peas (and the weeds!!!) are the prettiest they have ever been.Roses have started to bloom!
May 28 Picked last of peas and mowed them off.  Tilled up lettuce, radishes. and planted summer crops.  Picked first head of cabbage.  Very tender and good.