So you’ve picked out your favorite heirloom tomatoes and cucumber seeds for summer gardening and are just waiting for a little warm weather to plant your garden, right? Perhaps, but there are some tasty vegetables you can grow before the summer heat arrives. With the addition of a cold frame in northern regions, you can start to enjoy fresh vegetables right now.
Here are four hardy crops you should consider growing before it gets too hot.
Kale is one of the hardiest vegetables out there and belongs in any spring garden. If you plant a row of kale early enough, you’ll have plenty. There are lots of kale varieties, all with different flavors and colors, so be sure to plant a mixture to spice up your plate before the days grow longer and the sun gets hotter. Sautéed kale is a great side dish with poultry and meats. It adds a tasty zing to salads and can make a delicious smoothie in the blender, too. If you have a dehydrator, you can also make kale chips for a delicious, healthy snack.
Swiss chard is another leafy green that will thrive in the cold. Plant it right away, and like kale, it will produce in colder temperatures. In colder climates, a bed of mulch is all this plant needs to keep growing on chilly spring nights. If you live in a northern region, however, Swiss chard is an excellent candidate for cold frame growing. Chards are another vegetable that comes in a wide variety of sizes and colors. They are great sautéed as a side dish; blanching them first can soften the stems up a bit. Chard is also excellent in soups and is paired nicely with ham.
If you plant them right away, you may still be able to enjoy delicious turnips this spring, well before your neighbors get their summer gardens planted. Turnips grown in cold weather will often accumulate more sugar within them and have a delightful flavor when harvested. These root vegetables are also ideal candidates for cold frames and a protective mulch bedding. They’re a great side dish when roasted in the oven with spices like ginger. Mashed turnips are great too. You can also substitute turnips for potatoes the next time you make leek soup.
Who doesn’t love cabbage? Lucky for gardeners, this is another “cold hardy” vegetable you can grow right now. Plant cabbage right away, and it will produce, even in the north. (cabbage can withstand late spring snows and below freezing temperatures.) Cabbage is incredibly versatile as well and can add a nice variety to an otherwise mundane early spring meal. So try planting colored varieties to add pizazz to a plate. You can also stuff cabbage leaves with your favorite meats or sauté it with herbs and spices to ratchet up the flavor.
No Time Like The Present!
Late spring snows are no excuse to stop gardening! These four crops and many others will keep on growing well until the hot weather hits. Just give them what they need to thrive, and you’ll be enjoying fresh vegetables before you know it. So, don’t wait any longer; get out there and plant your cool weather vegetables before it’s too late!