You know how it is, the winter seems to drag on forever and you are itching to go and dig in the dirt and plant your garden. Now, it’s bad to jump the gun and plant warm weather crops early, but you don’t have to wait until the last frost to plant your garden!
There are a lot of cool weather vegetables you can plant out before your last frost date. So, as soon as your can work your soil, get out there and start planting!
Cool Weather Crops to Plant BEFORE Your Last Frost Date!
Peas are one of my very favorite cool weather crops. They are easy to grow (here’s how to grow them) and they are the most delicious thing.
I like to pre-sprout my peas seeds to make sure I get a good germination rate, but you can also directly sow them in the garden.
Pea seedlings can withstand temperatures of about 28F. They can handle as low as 20F with some potential damage. I have been able to get my peas through a cold snap by covering them with a layer of straw.
And if you get snow- that’s okay! Snow is insulating and will protect them from colder temperatures!
Spinach is one of the most cold hardy vegetables and can even be overwintered in many locations with good luck. This cool weather crop can withstand temperatures of 15F!
Spinach does best when sown directly in the garden and you can plant it as early as 4-6 weeks before your last frost date.
Radishes are one of the most gratifying vegetables to grow. I mean, seriously, you can have a fresh, homegrown radish from seed in as little as 21 days! When it’s cold and dreary, a bright red radish is sure to brighten your day!
This cool weather crop will germinate in soil temperatures as low as 45. And once growing, the plants can withstand a cold frost.
Don’t forget to plant successive plantings for a longer harvest!
Related Reading: 8 Early Tomato Varieties to Try This Year!
Cabbage is a member of the brassica family and thrives in cool weather.
It’s best to start your cabbage seeds indoors about 8-12 weeks before your last frost date. Once the plants have about 6 true leaves you can transplant them into the garden.
You can start planting out as early as 4 weeks before your last frost date. Cabbages can handle freezing temperatures down to about 20F.
There are even some winter hardy varieties that can be grown through the winters in many gardening zones so plant a second crop in the fall!
Broccoli is another member of the brassica family which loves the cold.
Like cabbage, start your broccoli seeds indoors and transplant to the garden about 4 weeks before your last frost.
Broccoli isn’t *as* hardy as cabbage but can still withstand mid-20s with no problem. If you grown them in a cold frame or under a row cover they can go even colder!
Kale is a master at withstanding freezing temperatures and there is the added bonus of increased flavor that comes with the frost! Some varieties can even handle single digits.
In the spring, plant your kale indoors at the same time as your broccoli and cabbage.
Another bonus of Kale is that it doesn’t bolt in hot weather as quickly as other cool weather crops. We’ve had kale plants that we planted in February and were still going strong the following November!
Arugula is a tangy, nutty green that is a member of the brassica family.
Unlike other brassicas, it is best directly sowed in the garden and germinates in temperatures as low as 40F.
Arugula should be sow successively as soon as the soil can be worked and planted throughout the cool weather.
Carrots thrive in cooler weather and grow best in daytime temperatures ranging from 60-65F. Carrot seeds should be directly sown in the very early spring, and their seeds will germinate in soil temperatures as low as 55F.
Carrots don’t like hot, so it’s best to plant and harvest before the summer heat.
Carrots also overwinter quite well, so plant a fall crop too!
Onions thrive in temperatures between 50-75, but are quite cold hardy as well. This cool weather crop can withstand down to 20F.
Onions need a long growing season to produce a large bulb, so planting early and mulching well to prevent the bulb from freezing (and rotting once thawed) is a must.
Lettuce is a wonderfully, easy thing to grow. Pair it with your spinach, arugula, and radishes for a nice early spring salad.
Depending on your variety, lettuce can be hardy through hard frosts in the low 20s.
Directly sow your seeds in the garden. Frost cloth or row covers may be needed when the seedlings are still small.
Swiss Chard is very cold hardy- with some varieties withstanding temperatures of 15F.
You can start your seeds indoors along with your cabbage and broccoli, or direct sow when you plant out your other brassicas.
With proper care and mulch this cool weather crop can be overwintered and will begin to grow again the following spring with no work on your part!
These are, of course, not the only cool weather crops you can grow before you last frost, but they are some of my favorites! So don’t wait- get started gardening now!