Cultivating a spring garden of nutrient-dense produce

As the earth awakens from its dormant winter state, it’s delightful to experience the warmer weather and longer days. And is there any better ritual of spring than eating fresh greens? 

Perhaps the most beautiful thing about spring gardens, apart from seeing those first few sprouts pushing up through the soil, is that you’re literally able to reap the rewards of what you’ve planted. Light, fresh veggies taste amazing in the spring, after all those hearty winter soups and roasts featuring squashes, potatoes, and turnips. Give us some greens!

Gardening is an activity that requires patience and advance planning, but cultivating your own food is immensely rewarding. Eating locally promotes a sustainable environment, too. Almeda recommends eating delicious seasonal foods — local and endemic to your area — whenever possible. 

Planting a spring garden filled with lettuce, spring vegetables, and herbs bolsters seasonal awareness and adds vitality to  your meals. So, whether you want to sprout a few microgreens, garden your herbs in containers, plant veggies in an urban community garden, stake out a suburban garden on your lawn, or are full-on ready to unleash your homesteading dreams, here are our top gardening tips. 

Steps to Prep your Spring Garden: A Guide for Beginners

  1. Know your planting zone.

Here’s a map to show you when to plant according to your climate zone for planting

  1. Prepare your plot, bed, and soil. 

Stake out the area — raised bed, garden or yard. Get rid of weeds. Get the soil ready with any natural compost and fertilizers required by the varieties of plants you want to grow. 

  1. Select your seeds. 

Order online or visit a local garden center for seeds. When you buy local, you can gain knowledge about exactly which plants grow best in your area and why.

  1. Watch the weather and water as needed. 

Plants have specific requirements for care based on type. Follow the directions for planting, watering, and harvesting your garden crops.  

  1. Harvest your crop! 

Harvest according to the planting guidelines for your specific crop. Wash produce thoroughly. Eat and enjoy.  

The hardiest spring garden crop? Lettuce!

When planting your first spring garden, we recommend starting with something that grows easily in cool weather, such as lettuce. By growing your own lettuce, you’ll have a leafy green base for all kinds of other foods. There are a variety of lettuces that do well in North America.

Lettuce’s amazing range means you can grow a variety of:  

  • Tastes -- mild, buttery, nutty, bitter
  • Textures -- delicate, hearty, crunchy
  • Colors -- pale green, vibrant green, dark green, purple, maroon. 

Salad greens to try include: 

  • Loose Leaf (8 types, such as Green Leaf and Ruby)
  • Butter head (like Bibb)
  • Crisp head (like Iceberg)
  • Oak Leaf (2 types)
  • Romaine (8 types, a Ceasar salad classic)


Salad greens make excellent cool weather crops, performing well in spring and early summer. Experts consider lettuce an easy-to-grow annual vegetable, because lettuce grows so fast -- from seed to table in about 30 days, and perhaps sooner if you want to eat microgreens.  

When to plant: 

Lettuce can be planted from mid-March to mid-April for those near Almeda’s headquarters in Kansas City, MO (We’re in Climate Zone 6.5 where on average, the last spring frost occurs around April 11. Be sure to check your climate zone for planting where you live). 

How to plant: 

Plant at a depth of ¼ to ½ inch deep. Plant at least  1 inch apart in rows or squares, or you can scatter them over the bed. Lettuce grows fastest in full sun, but tolerates some shade and may even last longer in afternoon shade as the season warms up. 


Lettuce likes fertile, well-drained, damp soil, so keep the soil moist. 


Lettuce requires plenty of water. Aim for light, frequent and consistent watering.


Lettuce is simple and easy to harvest. Cut off the entire bundle right at ground level, or remove a few leaves at a time.

Our favorite spring garden vegetables

Vegetables that make a great spring salad include asparagus, beets, carrots, leeks, onions, peas, and radishes. 

Beyond that, it’s hard to say which vegetables are “best” for you to plant —  it’s a matter of taste and environment — but below are some of our favorite veggies to plant and grow in the spring. 


Asparagus must be planted a year or two in advance, but then you can enjoy your asparagus crops for something like 20-30 years. So we’re playing the long game here. 

When to plant: 

Generally speaking, plant asparagus as soon as the soil can be worked, as the ground warms and softens. In climate zone 6.5, this is typically late March or early April. 

How to plant: 

While asparagus can be grown from seed, we typically plant 1-year-old plants called “crowns.” This eliminates a year of tedious weeding of male from female stems. 


Cull out all weeds and roots. Work in aged manure or compost. Use organic fertilizer regularly, as asparagus thrive on plant food.


Asparagus needs 1 to 2 inches of water each week during the first two seasons. Older asparagus plants require about 1 inch of water per week. Asparagus doesn’t like roots that are too wet, so plant them where water will drain well and not form pools of water.


Go slowly, and use restraint in the first few years.  Some resources say not to harvest at all the first year or two, to allow the root system to take hold. Harvest once the spears reach 5" to 7" high but before the tips start loosening. Snip off the spears just above the soil. 


Beets are great for beginners, because they're so darned easy to grow and almost never plagued by disease or pests.

Beets also represent some of our favorite “root to shoot” veggies, because they are nutritional powerhouses that you can enjoy eating from top to bottom. 

When to plant:
Beets can be planted several weeks before the last frost date. 

How to plant: 

Beets should be planted from seed, directly into the garden. 


During germination, keep the soil consistently moist by covering the area until seedlings break through the soil surface. 


Beets like full sun and enjoy about 1 inch of  water each week. 


Harvest at any time --  you can eat baby beets right away or full grown beets in the summer.


Carrots can be a little finicky about how their roots grow, but fresh spring carrots are certainly worth the hassle. 

When to plant: 

Plant seeds directly into the ground outdoors about 3 to 5 weeks before the last spring frost date for your area. 

How to plant: 

Evenly distribute seeds 1/4 inch deep, 2-3 inches apart, with rows 1 foot apart. Carrots tend to germinate slowly, taking 2-3 weeks to appear, so don’t worry if they don’t sprout up right away.


Carrots prefer airy, loamy soil rather than clay or silt. Carrots require careful soil preparation to help the roots grow straight down, unobstructed. Till down 12 inches and clear any rocks, stones, or soil clumps. Avoid manure and fertilizer -- opt for old coffee grounds instead.


Keep the soil moist with frequent and shallow waterings. Prevent soil from crusting on top. 


Harvest when the carrots are about as wide as a thumb (roughly 1/2 inch diameter), whenever you're ready but before daily temperatures get too hot, causing fibrous roots. Carrots taste better when they're on the small side and have survived some early frosts (frosts encourage sugar production in the roots). 

Leeks, Scallions & Onions

Leeks and scallions are generally cultivated similarly to onions.

When to plant: 

Onions prefer to be planted in weather that is cool, but not too cold -- not dipping below  28°F (-2°C) once onions are planted in the ground.  

How to plant: 

Plant onions from seeds or "onion sets," which are small onions started from seeds the previous season. Put the sets in 4-5 inches apart in a row or bed.  Leek seeds can be grown indoors, starting 12 weeks before the last frost.


Onions grow best in rich, loamy, well-drained soil. Use compost or peat moss on clay or sandy soil. Fertilize lightly before planting. Light mulch can save water and reduce weeds.


About 1 inch of water per square foot per week (including rain water) is plenty for  onion growth. Onion plants typically don't need extra watering when mulched. However, for sweeter onions, water a bit more.


The bulbs have stopped growing if the onions have flower stalks, so pull them up. When tops yellow and slump over, the onions are mature. Harvest mature onions by late summer, in dry conditions to prevent rot.


While peas are easy to grow, the growing period is rather short.

When to plant: 

In most of the US and Canada, peas do best when planted in February, March or April --  4 to 6 weeks before the last spring frost date and early enough to mature in still-cool weather. St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) serves as the traditional pea-planting trigger. 

How to plant: 

Soak seeds before planting -- in water overnight will do -- to speed up the germination process. Plant 1 inch deep and about 2 inches apart, with rows 7 inches apart. You may need to establish poles or a trellis for vining pea varieties.


Peas want a sunny spot with soil that drains well. Fertilize carefully, use manure or compost and mulch. Rotate the crops. While peas like phosphorus and potassium, too much nitrogen encourages leaves rather than pea pods to grow. 


Water peas sparsely; not more than 1 inch per week. Strike a balance to avoid rot while keeping the peas from drying out. Weed carefully to avoid disturbing peas’ shallow, fragile roots.


About 60 to 70 days after planting, most peas are ready to be harvested. Check into your variety of pea planted for instructions on specific signs the plants are ready.


Radishes are lovely, easy-growing plants. 

When to plant: 

Plant seeds directly in the garden soil 4–6 weeks before the average date of last frost.

Plant more seeds about every 10 days in cool weather for to continually harvest radishes in late spring  / early summer. 

How to plant: 

Plant outdoors ½ to 1 inch deep. Set them 1 inch apart, with rows 12 inches apart.


Plant in a sunny spot where soil is rich in organic matter, but not compacted down. Till the soil to remove rocks and dirt clods.


Water gently and regularly with a watering can, but don't let the radishes sit in water.


Radishes may be ready for harvest just three weeks after planting. Check for roots about 1 inch in diameter at the surface of the soil.

Best herbs for a spring garden

Herbs are great companions to your vegetables -- aiding the garden itself and adding natural bursts of flavor to enhance your favorite dishes. Here’s a succinct guide for growing herbs

We recommend planting at least a few of these herbs: 

  • Basil
  • Chives 
  • Dill
  • Mint
  • Lemon balm

  • Start gardening by planting something you love to eat that looks easy for you to cultivate, and build out your garden from there.  For further guidance planting vegetables of all types, we recommend this full gardening almanac

    How will you use Almeda alongside veggies from your garden?

    Planting a garden is a beautiful, hopeful activity. Eating from a spring garden helps us reconnect to the soil and eat root to shoot, too.  

    As you harvest the bounty of your garden, you can experiment with fresh and evolving recipes. We love spring veggies in garden salads, savory tarts, and light spring soups. Try this Shaved Asparagus Salad with Golden Turmeric Dressing, for example. 

    Encarna and Kasvi feature plant-based ingredients, and they work well alongside any fresh, whole foods.  

    We’d love to hear what you’re planting now and what garden-fresh produce you plan on eating this year. Send us your favorite recipes for cooking with fresh foods and with your favorite Almeda supplements!