Gardening is a hobby that you can spend a lifetime learning about. Seasons change, seeds fail or thrive, and just when you think you know it all, you realize how much there still is to learn. Direct Energy’s Gardening Series is a follow-along guide to embrace the beauty and challenges involved in being a gardener. As a craft that requires patience, creativity, and endurance, gardening can be enjoyed by those of all ages, and is one of the most satisfying ways to spend an early morning or late afternoon. Follow along as we show you how to begin, which herbs grow the best, and other tips on how to plant a garden that will flourish under your care.
No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn– Hal Borland
Spring is undoubtedly the most exciting time of year to immerse oneself in the garden.
The brooding atmosphere of winter has begun to lift, and the snow has started to melt. Bulbs emerge from the ground like a rainbow that rises, and branches come alive with their green buds that signal a new beginning.
It doesn’t take a well seasoned gardener to plant and grow fresh herbs and veggies during the springtime. With a few varieties, you can incorporate some freshly grown goodies into your nightly salads and sauces with very little upkeep along the way.
Keep in mind that many of our summer herbs and veggies such as squash are actually planted in spring, and don’t lead to fruition until summer. However, there are a few items that you can plant now to enjoy before spring’s end.
7 Best Vegetables and Herbs to Grow in your Spring Garden
Herbs are so easy to grow, you can for the most part ignore them once they are established. There are a few herbs that do require a bit of watering during a very hot spring day, but they aren’t something that needs to be overly watched. Herbs are a great green addition into salads, fresh pasta dishes, smoothies, or salad dressings.
1. Fresh Mint
Head to your local nursery to purchase a mint seedling rather than using seeds. It is slow growing from seed, so it’s best in this situation to start from a small plant.
Mint doesn’t like being in the sun all day. It responds negatively to too much sun, so keep it in a place where it receives partial sun.
You also likely want to keep it in a pot. It’s the type of plant like an ivy that can take over an area and loves to spread. Think of it as running through the soil like octopus tentacles.
If you do plant mint in the ground, then make sure you give it lots of space to roam.
2. Bountiful Basil
There are numerous varieties of basil you can grow, depending on what your palette and style of cooking tends to be. Italian basil or thai basil taste different from one another, so if your goal is to make pesto, then you’ll look for the Italian basil variety.
Basil grows well and easily from seed. Pick up a packet and follow the instructions on planting depth.
You’ll want to keep the ground watered and moist until your seedlings appear. Once they are 2 inches tall, separate them.
If you don’t, their roots will become crowded, and won’t grow to their fullest potential. Replant them roughly 6 inches apart. Basil can get rather tall and bushy for an herb, so give it space to grow.
4. Nasturtium Flowers
A lovely seed to plant is a nasturtium, as the stunning marigold yellow, flame orange and blood red flowers are edible. The leaves are also edible, but it’s the flowers that are a true show stopper on a plate piled with salad. Their flavor is earthy with a little peppery spice.
They love full sun and need watering once a week once established. Plant them near a rock border, and let them cascade over the edges.
3. Fresh Cilantro
Cilantro is a wonderful herb to grow at this time of year. It grows easily from seed, and will grow prolific in a garden filled with healthy, well draining soil. It loves full sun so plant it where your garden receives the most light.
Once it has bloomed and gone to seed, you can either harvest the dry seeds and use them in your cooking or leave them on the stem as the wind will blow them off for reseeding next season.
If you enjoy having butterflies in your garden, plant extra for the caterpillars. The swallowtail caterpillars in particular love them.
5. Spring Lettuce
In the northern parts of the United States, spring is the perfect time to grow lettuce. It’s also possible to grow it in the southern states, but mostly towards the start of spring as opposed to the end.
The varieties are endless with different types of leaves including variegated, red, green, broad leaf, mascara, and lightly scalloped edges.
Most lettuces require a surface sow. This means you gently toss the seeds into the row you are growing them in, and press them in with your foot. Water until you see seedlings emerge, and separate them when they are 2 inches wide.
As the heads grow, harvest the young leaves from the outsides as they grow. This way you’ll extend the life of your lettuce head, and avoid the bitterness that an old lettuce can sometimes produce.
6. Spring Peas
Spring is the time to grow peas. They love those warm sunny days, and slightly cooler nights. Grow your chosen variety of peas from seed, and plant them 2-3 inches from the edge of a trellis.
The trellis is your way of growing the pea vine vertically, so it’s also a great vegetable to grow as a space saver. They require this so that when the flowers turn to fruit, they don’t hang on the ground and rot. This also allows some good aeration around the vines. Keep the seeds watered once you plant them, and once they’re long enough, you can tie the vines to the trellis.
7. Tender Leafy Greens
Other leafy greens to consider in your spring garden bed are spinach and chard. Grow them from seed for budget friendly gardening. If you end up with too many, share the seedlings with friends!
It’s a good idea to purchase some hay, or to use leaves you have raked up as mulch. The more you can mulch your herbs and vegetables, the less you’ll need to water, and you’ll keep those pesky weeds at bay.