More kids would clean their plates of peas and carrots if they all tasted as sweet as the first sugar snap peas or baby carrots plucked fresh from the early spring garden.
Peas and carrots are part of a group of tasty early-season vegetables that like getting the cold shoulder. Root crops, leafy greens, and cole crops - those in the brassica family such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale - prefer spring's chill and can withstand light to moderate frosts and nighttime temperatures in the 40s.
If you've never planted a cool-weather garden, you're missing a season of delicious and nutritious vegetables, plus the chance to gently stretch your gardening muscles after a long winter's rest. An added benefit is saving a little extra green at the grocery store.
A spring kitchen garden can be planted in a prepared garden plot, raised bed, or even containers on a sunny deck, patio, or balcony. If you're not convinced cool-season gardening is for you, start small with a few pots of leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach, or chard.
Cool-weather gardening can begin 4-6 weeks before the average date of the last killing frost. Check with your county extension office to find the date for your area and ask about vegetable and herb varieties known to grow well in your region.
As soon as the soil has warmed and is dry enough to work, select a planting area that receives six or more hours of sun a day and is out of the wind, if possible.