After enduring a long winter waiting for gardening season to begin anew, I start to get a little impatient in the spring.
The snow is gone, so where are my veggies? Do I still really have to wait for months after planting to reap the nutritious garden produce that I so desire?
While there are some veggies that take a long time to reach full maturity in the garden (and they are worth the wait, trust me), there are also lots of edibles you can start growing in early spring and have them on your plate in only a few weeks! Grow these speedy vegetables this spring to satisfy your craving for homegrown produce in a hurry.
To grow pea shoots, soak dry peas in water overnight and then plant them in a bright, sunny spot. Water them often by misting with a spray bottle. Harvest tender pea shoots and eat them raw in sandwiches, wraps, and salads, or try lightly steaming or sautéing them and add to hot dishes. Pea shoots are crunchy and sweet with a flavor like mild peas.
Plant radish seeds early in the season, about four to six weeks before the last frost of the year. Choose a sunny location and as seedlings begin to grow, thin out the radish so that there is a two-inch space between each plant. You will have delicious baby radish to munch on in only three weeks!
Mizuna needs good drainage and moist soil to thrive. You can harvest tender, young leaves just three weeks after planting your seeds in the garden. Mizuna leaves have a somewhat bitter, peppery flavor and can be eaten raw in salads or added to stir-fries, soups, pasta dishes, or sautéed in a little oil for a tasty side dish.
Tatsoi likes cool conditions, so plant it two or three weeks before the final frost of the season and harvest young, tender leaves after about three weeks. Tatsoi is a crunchy leafy green with a thick stalk. Its texture is reminiscent of bok choy, but it tastes like a mild mustard green. Add tatsoi to salads, stir-fries, and soups, or simply steam or sauté it on its own.
Plant spinach in early spring, as it prefers cool temperatures. Harvest tender baby leaves in only a few weeks. You can let the leaves grow a bit bigger if you desire, but be sure to pick them when they are still quite small to avoid bitterness. Add to salads, sandwiches, and stir-fries, or simply steam spinach and add a little butter and salt for a delicious side dish.
Plant zucchini seeds in a sunny spot two to three weeks after the last frost. They will yield small, tender zucchini in just a few weeks. The flowers are also edible (they taste similar to zucchini, but milder) and look beautiful in a salad or as a garnish.
Plant turnips early—about two to four weeks before the final frost of the season. They thrive in a cool environment and do best when the days are still a bit short, plus they’ll be ready to eat earlier in the season if you get them in the ground early. You can wait for small, spring turnips to grow, or harvest the tender baby greens to eat in just two or three weeks.
Bush beans don’t take long to mature if you plant them two to three weeks after the final frost of the season. As the beans begin to grow and ripen, harvest them. Picking the beans as they grow will encourage more to grow in their place. Add bush beans to stir-fries, salads, and just eat them on their own for a crunchy snack!
If you grow cherry tomatoes from cuttings, you can go from planting to munching fairly quickly. Start with a healthy, mature tomato plant and snip a six-inch cutting. Remove the bottom leaves and any buds from the cutting and plant it somewhere warm, keeping it very moist the first week that it is in the ground. Now it should grow right up and start producing fruit in just eight or nine weeks.
Kai-lan is a leafy green that looks similar to kale, but it tastes more like a slightly bitter broccoli. You can harvest the greens while they are young and tender for a tasty treat that doesn’t take long to grow, or you can leave them to get bigger and harvest them then. To prepare kai-lan leaves, steam them and drizzle with soy sauce, or add to a stir-fry with other garden veggies.