Garden Tips, Gardening, Gardening 101

Cold Hardy Early Spring Seeds to Plant – Your Guide to Spring Crops

Cold Hardy Early Spring Seeds to Plant – Your Guide to Spring Crops

Do you know how many hardy, early spring seeds there are to plant for your table in early spring? When you are itching to get your hands in the soil and get some fresh greens growing to enjoy, know that there are a wide variety of items you can plant! Once your soil thaws out at least. Do keep in mind that early spring plantings are always a bit of a gamble, with a second winter always a possibility. Have some heavy plastic or tarps or if your weather is fairly mild, heavy-weight floating row covers. These can protect your cold-weather vegetables from those lasts frosts, or the odd skiff of snow that blows in. 

Here are some early spring vegetable seeds you can plant to get started growing to supplement your grocery bill, and satisfy that green thumb. 

I think that many people do not realize the ability they have to plant and grow early spring cold hardy seeds and crops, and how exciting this can be. 

snow peas, cold weather crop, hardy cold weather crop, early spring seeds
Snow peas are one of the earliest and cold-loving crops you can plant. As soon as you can turn the soil, you can plant these early spring seeds.

Some you may know already, hopefully, there are a few that surprise you and add to your joy this spring. 

Snowpeas, are the ultimate cold-weather crop!

As the name suggests, snowpeas like it cold. You can plant these babies as soon as you can get a shovel in the soil and turn it. Yes, you can still have patches of snow. Yes, you can still have a bit of frosty nights. Just stick that shovel in and get them planted!

green peas, snow peas, vegetables, cold hardy crops


While lettuces aren’t as cold tolerant as snowpeas,l ettuces do best in cooler weather, and especially winter-type varieties, do very well once the soil has thawed and warmed up a little. When your soil is around 10 degrees, you can get that lettuce going. Keep a floating row cover handy for cooler nights. 

Lettuce will start bolting and many kinds tend to go bitter once the heat of early summer hits, and then you will want a fall crop once it cools down. Lettuce likes moisture so keep it well watered. It is not a drought-tolerant crop. 

salad, salad plant, lettuce, early spring seeds, cold weather seeds
Lettuces come in many different colors, shapes, and sizes, not to mention flavors. These make lovely early spring crops.

Swiss Chard – plant in the fall for an early spring crop

This is a fabulous cold weather green. Use it like you would spinach, with a slightly nuttier flavor. It does well through spring and fall. A fall planting will give you greens through to light frost. It will die down, and pop back first thing in the spring. 

I’ve devoted an entire blog post just to swiss chard here, that’s how much I love having it in my garden.

chard, swiss chard, leafy vegetable, cold hardy vegetable, cold hardy seeds
Swiss chard, aside from being cold-tolerant, has an amazing variety of colors.

Corn Salad

This is one of those old-fashioned types of greens that seem to have lost popularity in the last few decades. Many people don’t even know what it is. Fortunately, it’s quite easy to find seeds, and even easier to grow. Cold soil in early spring is not a deterrent. It’s delicious in salads and stir-fries, with a sort of nutty flavor. 

It grows wild in its original state and was an early spring forage for greens, among indigenous peoples and early settlers. 

lamb lettuce, vegetable, food
Cornsalad with its small green leaves, has a nutty sort of flavor.

Cress and Watercress

Cress and watercress are close cousins, having a bright, peppery flavor that adds pizazz to any meal or sandwich you add it to. Cress will grow in cool weather with damp soil along your other spring greens. Watercress grows in wet areas, along running water. Or you can grow it in a bowl on your counter, with some rocks to give it some height. If you ever saw the BBC Show, Grow Your Own Drugs with James Wong, you will remember an episode where he showed exactly how to do this. 

Cress is packed with nutrients, especially vitamin C. This made it especially popular in Victorian times, when fresh food and vitamins were in low supply, especially in winter. The vitamin C levels kept scurvy at bay, and recipes with cress were widely used especially when sick, giving a vitamin punch to a bad cold or flu bug. Of course, the Victorians didn’t understand why cress worked, they just knew it had results. 

cress, green, cress bread
Cress adds a peppery, delightful flavor to a sandwich or your morning toast.

Asian Mustard Greens

Asian mustard greens cover a wide variety of greens, most of which do best in the cooler weather of spring or fall. Popular in many Asian cuisines, there are types ranging in flavor from wasabi, to more mustardy flavors, such as mizuna. Mizuna, incidentally, is the best, low-light green I have ever come across. If you need a plant for the winter months that will grow prolifically with five hours of daylight, mizuna is your plant. 

There are many varieties, all nutritious and delightful for stir-fries, soups, and salads. 

blossom, bloom, flower
Broccolini is a type of wild mustard green, going to seed with a beautiful, yellow flower here. Which is edible, by the way.

Broccolini, or Raab 

Can we just talk about how broccolini does so well in containers too, as well as cool weather? As an early spring cold weather crop, it should be in every garden. It does not need the space that regular broccoli does, making it ideal for small garden spaces, or even interplanting between rows of other vegetables. Once it starts producing its small flower heads, keep them harvested to keep production going, and also slow down it’s going to seed. 

broccolini, kitchen, cooking
Regular harvesting of your broccolini, or raab, can give you many meals, in a shorter period than regular broccoli.

Cabbage for an Early Spring Harvest 

Cabbage is the ultimate early cold-weather vegetable crop. There are many good hybrids now that do better in the hot summer weather, and also take less time to grow. However, there are many winter types that do exceptionally well in the cold weather, which is why it is so popular in northern European cuisines. 

There are types that can be started in early spring and be ready in a couple of months. There are others, like the big old-fashioned savoyed winter types, that can be started late summer and will grow through to snowfall, and then keep growing first thing in the spring for a spring harvest. Or a late fall or mid-winter harvest. You have to be willing to go dig in the snow for those. 

savoy cabbage, cabbage, leafy greens
All cabbages tend to do best in cooler weather, but some, like this savoyed type, do exceptionally well.

There are many other types of cold-weather vegetable crops, but these are some of the easiest ones to find. 

What are your favorite early spring or late fall vegetables to grow? Leave a comment below on your go-to greens for others to try! 


4 thoughts on “Cold Hardy Early Spring Seeds to Plant – Your Guide to Spring Crops

  1. Thanks Cathy, very useful, I had never heard of corn salad, and will try watercress as I used to forage it in France when we were kids. Delicious with eggs and toast.
    I always read your emails, good information and inspiration during our long winter in Alberta.

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