Time to plant early vegetables this spring

by Stephanie Suesan Smith on February 7, 2015

It is time to plant early vegetables once more.  This year we have had very weird weather and things are already blooming and greening up.

Before you plant, let your ground dry out enough to work.  Working mud does nothing but damage the soil and frustrate the farmer.  When the ground is dry enough to work, till it to a depth of twelve inches.  You can do this mechanically with a rototiller or manually with a broad fork.  The broad fork is probably better for the soil but definitely more work.  Once the ground is tilled well, spread three inches of compost on it and mix in well.  This provides a fertile and well drained bed to plant in.

What do you plant?  The traditional root crops are beets, turnips, carrots, radishes, and potatoes (which should have gone in Groundhog’s day).  Some people also plant rutabagas and parsnips.

The above ground crops that are planted are Swiss chard, rhubarb, sugar snap peas, English peas,  spinach, lettuce, and other greens.

Finally, the cole crops are transplanted into the ground.  These include cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.  Brussels sprouts do better in the fall than in the spring.  It gets hot too soon in the spring for Brussels sprouts to make properly.

What varieties do you plant?  Well, the Extension website has a neat vegetable chooser that tells you the correct varieties to grow for your county.

If you live in Hunt County, as I do, here are the varieties listed for the early spring vegetables:


Cylindra, Detroit Dark Red, or Pacemaker II for beets, Avenger, crosby green top, or Lutz Green leaf if you want greens


Betasweet (purple), Danver half long, Nantes half long, Red core chantenay, Royal chantenay, Scarlet nantes, or Touchon (heirloom)


Snow Crown or Star dust


Blue max, Georgia Southern, or Vates


Dwarf blue curled Scotch


For Butterhead/Bibb plant Buttercrunch, for Looseleaf plant Black seeded Simpson, Green ice, Re raisa, Red Sails, Salad Bowl (green or red)


Southern giant gurled or tendergreen

English Pea

Early snap, Knight, Little marvel, Mammoth melting sugar, Wando

Snap Pea

Oregon sugar pod, Sugar Ann, Super sugar


Champion, Cherriette, Cherry Belle, White Icicle


American purple top



Swiss Chard

Bright lights, Fordhook giant, Large white rib, Lucullus, Rhubarb chard, Rhubarb Red, Silverado


Just Right, Purple top white globe, Shogoin

Gardenbookfrontcoverthumbnail For more help gardening, buy my book, Preparing A Vegetable Garden From The Ground Up
Available in print or ebook from or other retailers, this book walks you from choosing the site of your garden all the way through what to do after the harvest. Buy a copy for yourself or a friend today! 



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tony McCarthy June 12, 2017 at 7:29 pm

Hi Stephanie. You indicated tilling in compost when preparing the soil for planting. Do you use any worm compost or vermicompost as a medium? If so have you noticed any pros or cons with the results. I am always interested to know.
Also after planting broccoli, cauliflower etc do you have a white moth problem and if so how do you deal with it?
Thanks Stephanie


Stephanie Suesan Smith June 19, 2017 at 7:37 am

I do not have a source of worm compost. I live in cattle country, though, so it is always easy to get manure to compost. That is what I use, along with leaves, grass clippings, and other vegetable matter. The resulting compost works well. I have not had a white moth problem around my broccoli, etc. If you have a problem with them, spray the affected crops with Bt to kill the caterpillars and eliminate the problem.


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