Cool-Season Vegetable #6: Lettuce
Lettuce thrives in cool, wet, spring weather and can be harvested by cutting leaves as needed. It can tolerate a light frost but should be covered or protected during a hard freeze.
Use a cold frame to get a head start growing lettuce from seed in the spring, and add in some arugula, endive, and watercress to spruce up your salads. Thin your seedlings for larger heads and leaves, or leave them unthinned for smaller “baby” lettuce.
Read our article on How to Grow Lettuce to find out more.
Cool-Season Vegetable #7: Onions
One of the hardiest of vegetables, onions can be planted as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring. Most easily grown from sets (partially-grown bulbs), onions form large bulbs according to the temperature and length of daylight.
Long-day onions are recommended for northern climates, where the appropriate temperatures don’t arrive until the longer days closer to summer. Short-day onions are better for southern climates, where they can be grown during spring, fall, and winter.
Cool-Season Vegetable #8: Peas
Peas are another very hardy vegetable that can be planted in early spring, as soon as the soil can be worked. They can survive temperatures down to 25° F and even a light snow but don’t like hot weather.
Zones 7 and warmer can grow peas as a winter crop, or plant seeds in the fall to germinate in early spring. Colder zones can plant seeds 1-2 months before the last frost.
Like other legumes, peas absorb nitrogen from the air and shouldn’t be over-fertilized.
Cool-Season Vegetable #9: Potatoes
Technically known as tubers, potatoes are planted 2-4 weeks before the last frost in the spring. They are planted from “seed potatoes,” which are pieces of potato that contain at least one “eye” or sprouting bud. They like loose, well-drained soil with plenty of potassium, along with consistent moisture.
Potatoes are semi-hardy and should be protected from a hard freeze. Mulch potatoes for insulation and to protect the tubers from sunlight, which causes them to turn green (and toxic!).
Cool-Season Vegetable #10: Spinach
Another very hardy vegetable, spinach should be planted as soon as the ground can be worked in early spring. It’s a fast grower and can be grown in succession plantings for a season of salad until hot weather. Like other leafy vegetables, it needs very fertile soil and plenty of water to produce tender leaves.
Spinach will taste sweetest when nipped by cool weather, and fall crops planted during the summer may require overplanting to ensure that enough seeds germinate in the warm soil.
Lettuce is a popular cool-season vegetable that’s easy to grow.
- Understanding Planting Zones (article) U.S. map with color coded list of the different planting zones.
- Vegetable Garden: Planning and Layout (article) Basic guide to starting a vegetable garden in your yard.
- How to Plant a Fall Vegetable Garden (article) Fall vegetable garden planting tips for your home.
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