It was just a one-week difference between a 16-inch snow blizzard and a warm and sunny 70-degree day to kick off our Minnesota spring. With the abysmal April forecast, I never did start my lettuce indoors, but that’s ok – I can direct seed it outside now!
It can be really tricky to know when to plant what, so I wrote up a list of what I consider plantable at this point. Yes, RIGHT NOW! I haven’t even stashed the sleds into the rafters or washed up all our winter gear yet, so it’s a mental shift to be sure. But, folks, it is time to find your gardening tools and get planting!
All of the veggies listed here are cold-hardy, meaning they tolerate, or love, cool spring temps. To add a confusing twist, some plants do best being set out as already established starts, and some do best by direct sowing the seeds, and some (like lettuce) can be placed in the garden in either form. I have categorized my list accordingly, to make it a little easier.
The logic with spring transplants is the same as that of heat-loving transplants – you’re getting a jump start on the growing season. This can be especially useful for cold-loving plants because MN spring is so often very fleeting. That’s never more true than on years like this one where winter ends quite late! The further along your spring-loving plants are when the ground thaws, the more time they have to flourish in cool weather.
Veggies to plant now as transplants
1. Onions – This would include bulb onions, scallions and all the in-betweens. If you started onions from seed, you’ve been nursing them along from the depths of winter as they need a loooong season. If you didn’t start from seed, find yourself some transplants.
While it is technically possible to direct seed broccoli and its relatives, it is risky enough that I am just putting it in the transplant-only category. Again, these plants really benefit from the head start to enjoy spring temps. Nothing more disappointing for the gardener than nursing plants all spring long, only to have it bolt because of summer heat, just as the broccoli head starts to form!
Transplant or direct seed
7. Lettuce – This is a cool-loving crop that is also sensitive to frost. We jumped right into fairly warm temps this year, so I’m not too concerned about recommending planting this now. If weather takes a turn and there is a light frost after your plants have germinated, simply cover your lettuce for the night with floating row cover, or a sheet.
8. Herbs – Only the cold-hardy types like cilantro and parsley. If you aren’t sure about the cold-hardiness of a particular herb you want to grow, look it up. Many of the herbs that I have were started by getting a patch from a friend’s plant. This is an excellent alternative to seeding; spring or fall are good times to do this.
9. Asian greens – Pac choi, napa cabbage, tatsoi, etc.
10. Salad Greens – Arugula, mustard greens, spinach, sorrel, swiss chard, etc.
16. Potatoes – Potato greens are frost-sensitive; if the greens emerge and there is a frost, make sure to cover it up for the night.
17. Beets – These will germinate best if soil is at least 50 degrees at planting time.
Aaaand that’s a wrap! Do please let me know if you think of something that should be on this list. I’d hate to miss something.
Whew! Well, I have a ton of garden work to attend to now, and I bet you do, too. We are so very thankful to be able to finally play in the dirt and watch life come from the soil.
As always, let me know if you have any questions about planting your garden right now!