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Tasty Garden Goodness │ What to Plant in Early Spring By Candy Webb

Retailers and nurseries are changing their shelves from holiday gifts to outdoor garden supplies again since spring officially begins in just a few short weeks, on March 20th. What to plant in early spring is the first question for most garden enthusiasts addicted to trying new plants annually. The answer to what to grow can be identified by when to plant each seed or start and is based upon the weather conditions where you live. Planting guides are excellent references, helping you decide on the best ideas and timelines for your garden.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac, around for well over 200 years, is still a fantastic resource for weather expectations, among many other expert references. Still in print, the Almanac is now available online at www.almanac.com. This journal takes the guesswork out of the all-important expected last frost dates, which are, in turn, used to calculate best planting dates, also referenced on the site by zip code.

Checking the hardiness zone maps can also determine what to plant in early spring. Created by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the hardiness zone maps split the map into sections or zones, which help decide planting timelines in your region. Plants and shrubs are easily defined as promising candidates for planting in a particular zone based on their ‘hardiness’ or ability to withstand certain weather conditions. You’ll want to check your area annually since the maps can change by shifting approximately thirteen miles northward each year. These maps are also available on www.almanac.com.  

Seeds for some plants are best started early and indoors for transplanting outside later on. Basil, bell pepper, cabbage, and broccoli are all good seeds to start indoors by March 1st. In the cold-hardy Zone 5, growers can sow a surprising number of seeds outdoors as early as mid-February. For instance, Fava Beans are started outdoors in Zone 5 as early as February 1st.   

If you were thinking about what to plant in early spring from seed this year, it’s not too late. Now’s your time to begin your garden plan. Find your zone and planting guide information, check your weather for the earliest frost dates, and start your garden journey today.  You will be a happier gardener this year if you do!

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