As spring rolls around, and the weather begins to warm, it’s hard to wait for vegetables to reach full maturity. While some veggies take a while, there are others you can start growing in early spring and have homegrown produce in a few short weeks. These 14 quick growing vegetables are perfect for your spring garden.
1. Garden Cress
In as little as two weeks, you can harvest garden cress, a peppery, tangy flavored herb. Plant in early spring in loose soil and a sunny location. Seeds can be started outdoors between one and two weeks before the average last frost. Plant seeds ½-inch deep, spaced 1 inch apart. Rows should be 6 inches apart. Seedlings should emerge in 5 to 15 days.
2 to 3 weeks
Sow the seeds directly in the ground and simply cut the outer leaves near the base of the plant when they are large enough. Young leaves can be harvested in as little as 21 days. To grow through the summer months, choose a shady spot to prevent the plant from growing to seed too quickly.
3. Pea Shoots
2 to 3 weeks
To grow pea shoots, soak dry peas in water overnight and then plant them in a bright, sunny location where you would normally grow peas. Although any variety can be grown for pea shoots, the sugar pod peas are the easiest to grow. Once your pea plants are 6 to 8 inches tall, begin snipping off the growth including one set of leaves. By cutting off the plant tips, it will encourage new growth for future harvests of shoots and tendrils, and eventually peas if you let them mature. After the first harvest, continue snipping the top 2 to 6 inches of the plant every 3 to four weeks. Pea shoots are crunchy and sweet with a flavor like mild peas.
Plant radish seeds directly into the soil, ½ inch deep and 1 inch apart; firm the soil and water gently. Make weekly spring sowings as early as 4 to 6 weeks before the last expected frost. Choose a sunny location and as they grow, thin seedlings so there is a two-inch space between the plants.
A mild flavored Japanese mustard is a delicious addition to any salad, stir-fry, soup or pasta dish. A relative to the turnip, Mizuna needs only 3 to 5 hours of sunlight per day. Begin sowing seeds in moist soil, 2 weeks before the last frost and continue to plant every 2 weeks. Tender, young leaves can be harvested as soon as 20 days.
6. Green Onions
Green onions are a quick-growing plant that can be cut back to their base throughout the season. They are ready for harvest once their green shoots reach 6 inches.
7. Baby Kale
3 to 4 weeks
Sow seeds directly into the garden in early spring. When harvesting kale as a baby green, sow the seeds thickly, making for a prolific harvest from a small square footage. Excellent varieties to grow as baby kale include Red Ruffled, Bolshoi, Dwarf Siberian, and White Russian.
8. Baby Bok Choy
3 to 4 weeks
Plant bok choy seeds or seedlings outside as early as 2-3 weeks before your last average spring frost and as late as a few weeks before your first average frost in the fall. “Plant about 60-100 seeds per square foot in the garden. When the plants are 4’’ or 5’’ tall, harvest the leaves by giving the patch a haircut with scissors, cutting about an inch above the bases of the leaves. Plants will continue to grow more leaves, allowing for at least a couple more harvests. Replant bok choy every 4-6 weeks for a continuous supply.”
4 to 5 weeks
With edible bits above and below the soil, red beet cultivars produce nutritious greens that are ready to be picked about a month after sowing. Beet leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, but only snip off a leaf or two from each plant so as not to impede root production. When beet shoulders begin to protrude from the soil, after another month, it’s time to pull the plant from the ground.
4 to 5 weeks
Unlike other seedlings, spinach can grow in partial shade and only needs 3 to 6 hours of dappled sun. It’s an easy vegetable to grow, perfect for beginning gardeners. Plant seeds in early spring and harvest baby leaves in 35 to 40 days.
5 to 6 weeks
Plant zucchini seeds in a sunny spot two to three weeks after the last frost and when the soil has reached 60°. Harvest zucchini when they are small and tender, about 4 to 6 inches in length. Zucchini flowers are also edible and are delicious stuffed, in salads, and served as a garnish.
Turnips have been grown for over 3,000 years and quickly mature in a spring or fall garden. Turnips thrive in cool temperatures and are best planted two to three weeks before the final frost of the season. Sow the seeds directly into the ground as they don’t transplant well. Once seedlings are 4 inches high, thin to 6 inches between plants. Small spring turnips will be ready for harvest in four to six weeks, or you can harvest the tender baby greens in just two or three weeks.
13. Bush Beans
Beans grow on two types of plants: bush and pole. Bush beans are usually self-supporting and mature more quickly than vining pole beans. Plant seeds two to three weeks after the final frost of the season. With a little time, sun, and water, you can begin harvesting beans in as little as 6 weeks to 2 months.
14. Cherry Tomatoes
Choose a sunny location for your cherry tomatoes that receives about 8 hours of sun per day. You can start seeds indoors in late winter, or plant seedlings directly into the garden and begin harvesting delicious fruit in about two months.
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