Planning for Your Spring Garden


It’s never too early to start dreaming about a bright and brilliant spring day spent lounging on your patio.

Sure, it’s winter. You’ve likely stored all your patio cushions and covered your patio furniture. And, your garden is most likely looking a little grey. That’s what happens in the Seattle area this time of year.

But, spring will be here before you know it. Now’s the perfect time to plan your spring garden. Not only is it a fun way to look ahead, it’s also a great way to be prepared to enjoy Mother Nature’s brilliance as the summer changes.

This early spring planning guide will help you determine what you’re going to plant and what you need to plant first in order for your growing beauties to thrive.

Before we get stated, it’s important to acknowledge that spring comes at different times of year depending on where you live. But one principle is the same, it’s the time of year when your soil has thawed enough to work with. This indicates that you should start planting seeds. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the first days of spring are generally in March and April.

Best Early Spring Crops

The best early spring crops tend to be vegetables that are sensitive to summer heat or fruits that need to be planted as early as possible. There are also some herbs that thrive during spring.

You may not want to plant all of these items. You may also need to start some of these early spring crops indoors, so that the seedlings don’t get too cold. In general, you want to avoid any seedling freezing.

Early Spring Vegetables

  • Peas. Sow directly into the ground 4-6 weeks before the last frost.
  • Arugula. Sow directly into the soil as soon as it thaws. This hearty green can withstand cold temperatures, so you don’t have to worry about it freezing.
  • Spinach. Sow directly into the soil. Spinach can also withstand cold temperatures.
  • Leeks. Leeks are an item you’ll want to start indoors, 8-12 weeks before the last frost.
  • Asparagus. Plant directly in the soil 4-weeks before your last frost.
  • Carrots. Sow directly in the soil 3-4 weeks before the last frost. (Carrots tend to be an easy-to-grow hearty crop that lasts throughout the summer.)
  • Parsnips. Sow directly into the soil once the soil has thawed.
  • Sweet Potatoes. Start indoors 8-10 weeks before the last frost. Transplant to the outdoors after the last frost, as a hard frost can kill these plants.
  • Peppers. Start indoors 8-10 weeks before the last frost. Then transplant to the garden when it’s warm.
  • Tomatoes. Start as seeds indoors 608 weeks before the last frost.

Early Spring Fruits

The following fruits need to be planted as soon as the soil has thawed.

  • Blackberries. These can be a VERY invasive species. There’s a strong likelihood you already have blackberries growing on your property, which can be hard to contain. If you don’t and are planning to plant them, you may consider planting them in a large container to keep them from overtaking your garden.
  • Raspberries. Like blackberries, raspberries can be extremely invasive. You may also want to consider planting them in a large container.
  • Cherries.
  • Pears.
  • Plums.

Early Spring Herbs

These early spring herbs can be great additions to any garden.

  • Mint
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Lemon Balm
  • Dill

Additional Spring Planting Tips

Because Mother Nature can be unpredictable, the “last frost” is a bit of a guessing match. The last thing you want is to get your plants planted only to discover that they’ve withered thanks to a harsh frost. In order to protect your growing beauties, you might consider planting in containers.

In the event of a cold front, this will allow you to quickly and easily move vulnerable plants into a warm space where they will be protected. When planting in containers, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Make Sure the Container is One You Can Move. If the whole point is to take your container indoors when it’s cold, you’ll want to make sure you can take it indoors. This means using a container that can be moved and having the necessary tools to move it — such as a dolly for very large pots.
  • Make Sure the Container is Big Enough to Accommodate Your Plants. While the container doesn’t have to be your plant’s final destination, starting with an ultra-small container may mean you have to transplant more than once. To avoid this, error on the side of more room.
  • Make Sure You Use Good Soil. Soil is where your plants get their nutrients (aka food). Unlike a large field that can get nutrients from outside sources, containers are like their own little worlds. This means it’s particularly important to use a high-quality soil when planting in a container.

Learn more about container gardening.