What Vegetables Should You Plant First?
Spring can be a chaotic time for organic gardeners, but planting in the spring always pays off in the long run. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as picking a fresh vegetable from your own garden after the long, cold winter months. Springtime in Iowa can be tricky for growing, however, since the weather often changes its mind. Despite temperatures being a bit chilly, and the ground being a little too damp for many vegetables, there are several choices that can be placed in the garden even before the final frost date.
One of the best things about growing vegetables in the spring is the fact that pests and diseases haven’t taken over yet. Even though your first ripe tomato may be a few months away, there are plenty of things to do to stay busy in the garden. Iowa’s cool, wet springtime weather gives you the chance to work with several rounds of peas, lettuce, and other perennial vegetables.
Let’s take a closer look at what you can start planting now:
1. Asparagus – Asparagus is an excellent perennial vegetable because it gets more productive as the years go on. A mature harvest of asparagus can last for months, which gives you plenty of time to enjoy the crunchy green spears that will start poking through in the early months of spring. Not a fan of asparagus? Try it freshly picked. Trust us.
2. Spinach – This leafy green is quick to sprout, making it an ideal choice for a springtime garden. Spinach can be frost resistant, especially when you grow it under cover. There are several varieties to choose from (most fall under the categories of savoy or semi-savoy), which means you can grow your favorites every spring. Do you like spinach with crinkled or curly crisp leaves? Do you prefer spinach that has a smooth leaf? Why not grow both so you have a variety of textures in your salads? Regardless of the varieties you choose, spinach can be grown close together and harvested in as little as three weeks from planting.
3. Peas – Does your family participate in the tradition of planting peas on St. Patrick’s Day? It doesn’t always happen in Iowa because we might still have snow covering our gardens. However, even if you miss the date, peas that are planted in late April will quickly catch up to those planted in March, so you haven’t lost any time whatsoever if there’s snow on your garden this St. Patty’s day.
4. Rhubarb – This vegetable, often prepared like a fruit, is a staple among Iowa households. As one of the first sweet vegetables of the season, rhubarb is a perennial star of the garden. Your grandmother planted rhubarb year after year because it’s easy to grow and can be used for a plethora of dishes. As soon as your springtime bed is established, plant some rhubarb but be cautious because the crowns can quickly turn into dense bricks that are difficult to divide.
5. Radishes – These little guys are among the fastest vegetables you can grow. Much like a variety of greens, radishes can be harvested and enjoyed about three weeks after planting. Many gardeners like working with radishes because there are so many options that go beyond the red, pink, and white ones we see in the grocery stores. Radishes can be found in a variety of colors, shapes, sizes, and flavors.