It may seem a bit chilly for gardening but spring is the perfect time to jumpstart your vegetable garden. Starting early means you’ll be harvesting healthy home-grown vegetables when other gardeners are just rolling up their sleeves to get to work.
You can sow cold-hardy seeds, like lettuce, cucumber, and spinach before the last frost date. Simply start the seeds indoors or in a greenhouse and transplant them outdoors once the weather becomes warmer.
Not sure what to plant? Discover the best vegetables to plant in spring that you can harvest all through summer. We’ll also share some spring gardening tips with you.
What to plant in a spring garden
Spring gardening might sound limiting. But there are plenty of cold-weather vegetables you can grow around this time, from cucumbers to garlic. What’s more, most of these vegetables are easily grown from seeds and they’re generally low-maintenance, requiring only a basic shelter at night to thrive.
Cucumbers are a great spring vegetable to start from seeds. You can grow cucumbers in a greenhouse or sow them outdoors directly. Whatever you decide, they’ll need extra warmth to grow properly.
You can start cucumber seeds 2 to 3 weeks after the last frost date. Once the seedlings begin to mature into vines, they’ll need trellises and stakes for support.
You can sow beetroot seeds from March onwards when the garden is cold but not frozen. Beets don’t grow well if it’s too hot.
Sow the seeds 3 inches apart so the roots have space to grow. If the nights are still cold and wet, you may need to protect them with a frost cover.
Tip: Use frost fleece specially made for vegetable seedlings rather than mature plants. The latter may be too thick.
In springtime, you can grow different types of carrots, from the classic orange type to red, yellow, and even purple varieties.
Carrots love sunlight and well-drained soil. Plant them 2 to 4 weeks before the last frost date, and they should be ready to harvest in 14 to 16 weeks.
Spring cabbage is crunchier and sweeter than other varieties but it needs plenty of sunlight and rich soil to grow well.
You can sow cabbage seeds indoors or in a greenhouse for an early start. Then transplant them to your garden once they’re bigger. Remember to keep them covered until the weather becomes warmer.
You can grow lettuce all year round, even in the cold months. For that, you need to sow seeds undercover, in a well-lit greenhouse or cold frame.
You can also plant other salad leaves like rocket, mustard, and kale around this time. Since salad leaves can grow surprisingly large, make sure to space them well.
Tip: Loosen up the soil before planting lettuce seeds if it’s too compact. Lettuce grows best in loose soil.
Potatoes are cold-hardy. They can easily survive frost and can be planted right at the start of spring. What’s more, you can harvest them as soon as 10 weeks after planting.
To grow potatoes, make sure the soil is acidic and loose. Avoid too much sun exposure—it can make potatoes green and bitter.
Cauliflowers are another cool-season crop you can start in spring. They need fertile soil, plenty of water, and consistently cool temperatures.
If they don’t get these, they will form many button-size heads instead of a single, large one. Cauliflowers also take up quite a bit of space. Sow them 6 inches apart to avoid overcrowding.
Radish seeds germinate and grow very quickly. Sow them in early spring and they’ll be ready to eat in as little as 4 weeks.
Grow radishes in a sunny area of your garden. Too much shade will make the leaves larger and the root smaller. Also, keep the soil well-watered so the roots grow fleshy and don’t split.
Tip: Sow radish seeds at least 9 inches apart so you won’t have to thin them out later.
Turnips are cold-tolerant and can be sown in early March. Some varieties, like Milan purple top and Atlantic, can be sown as early as February under shelter.
Turnips like cool, moist ground and sunny, open sites. Since they grow very quickly, you can enjoy them in late spring.
Tip: Don’t throw away turnip leaves. You can eat turnip greens raw in salads, sauté or braise them, or add them to soups.
Home-grown peas are easy to start from seeds. You can sow them in March and harvest them after about 3 months.
Choose a sunny, fertile spot for the seeds. Sow them 2 inches deep and the seedlings will appear in 1 or 2 weeks. Young peas will need stakes for support, so be prepared.
Spinach is a cool-weather vegetable you can start indoors even in February. Once the seeds germinate and start growing, transplant them outdoors.
Spring spinach likes growing in a sunny spot and loose, moist soil. You can use cold frames to keep the seedlings sheltered at night.
12. Brussels sprouts
You can start Brussels sprouts in modular trays in March. Take the young plants outdoors 4 to 6 weeks later when they grow at least seven true leaves.
Brussels sprouts are slow-growing. Plant them in rich, deep soil in full sun. It can take up to 31 weeks for them to mature and harvest.
Tip: To encourage Brussels sprouts to grow faster, thin them out when they are young and apply a nitrogen-rich fertiliser.
Aubergines are warmth-loving vegetables. It’s best to grow them indoors or in a polytunnel. For them to grow properly, delay their sowing time to April.
Once the seeds germinate, keep them on a warm and bright windowsill. You can grow them outdoors when it’s closer to summer. Without warmth, you may end up with only an egg-sized aubergine or two.
You can grow onions from seeds or immature bulbs both outdoors and indoors. Start them in spring so they’re ready for harvesting in summer.
Onions aren’t too choosy when it comes to light. They adapt well to both sun and partial shade, but they grow best in compost-rich soil.
Garlic is usually grown from cloves instead of seeds. You can plant garlic cloves in spring, from February to March. They should be ready to harvest in early May.
Sow the cloves 2 inches deep in the soil. Snip off any flower shoots that may sprout in spring, as they will slow the bulb growth.
How to plant a spring garden
Spring gardening may seem like a lot of work with sowing seeds, cleaning debris, and sheltering the plants that need it, but if you plan ahead and have proper supplies, you can enjoy each part of the process.
Here are some tips and tricks to make sure the seeds you sow in spring will bring you a bountiful harvest.
- Buy vegetable seeds in winter for early spring planting.
- Start seeds that have a longer growing season indoors in modular trays.
- Tidy up winter debris like leaves and weeds before planting.
- Cover your garden with black plastic sheets to warm the soil for sowing.
- Apply fresh mulch to your garden beds to encourage healthy plant growth.
- Plant in a sunny site with free-draining soil.
- Shelter seedlings with cloches and cold frames if you plant outdoors before the last frost.
- Put out trellises and stakes in advance for climbing and vining vegetables, like cucumbers and peas.
- Avoid overcrowding your vegetable garden by sowing the seeds at least 3 inches apart.
Spring vegetable gardening FAQs
Still have questions about growing vegetables in spring? The answers below may help.
How do I prepare my vegetable garden?
First, find the best spots in your garden for growing vegetables. Most spring vegetables love full sun and free-draining soil. Then, till the soil and add organic matter such as well-rotted compost or manure. Finally, start sowing.
For best results, plan your garden beds in advance and give your vegetable seeds plenty of space to grow.
When to sow vegetable seeds outdoors in spring
Sow cold-hardy vegetables outdoors after the fear of frost has passed. Most UK gardeners can start sowing vegetable seeds in April. Alternatively, you can start seeds indoors in February and March and transplant them once the weather warms up.
How do I make a raised bed for my vegetable garden?
Raised beds make cold-season gardening so much easier. They help the soil warm up faster, provide good drainage and are easy and inexpensive to make.
To make your own raised bed, nail 4 wooden planks together into a square or rectangle and fill it will good soil. Add some organic matter too. You can also convert old crates and pallets into raised beds for your vegetables.