Planting Your Cool-Season Veggie Garden
Whether you are a first-time planter or you have enjoyed multiple seasons of gardening, understanding the dynamics of what your planting and when it will grow best is essential. So pick up those gardening gloves, and let's plant some cool-season veggies!
When is Cool-Season and What Should I Plant?
Cool-Season is anywhere from a few months to a few weeks before the last frost of the season. For example, in New Jersey, the cool-season lasts from late February to late April. Cool-season vegetables benefit from the cooler temperatures, allowing them to germinate and grow into delicious snacks and side dishes for you and your loved ones!
Deciding what to plant is entirely up to you and what kind of greens (or red's, or purple's, or white's) you like! Luckily, you have many options for healthy and nutritious vegetables to plant in the early weeks of spring. Each veggie has its benefits, and we have a few fan faves.
This gorgeous green is called the "Crown Jewel of Nutrition" for a reason! With high water content, low-calorie count, and packed with protein, it’s easy to see why gardeners love broccoli!
Seeds can start growing indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost, and then transplanted outside once the soil warms up (around 50 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal) 2-3 weeks before the last frost. Broccoli loves the sun, so try to pick a spot in your yard with 6-8 hours of sun a day.
When planting your broccoli, use fertile and well-draining soil. Broccoli likes moist soil, so be sure to water these babies daily with 1-2 inches of water. Try using our Bumper Crop Organic Potting Soil, and Bumper Crop Organic Soil Builder to watch that broccoli grow!
Once you've got the right soil, it’s time to plant! Space your broccoli babies 8-12 inches apart, leaving 3 feet between rows when possible. If you're low on space, no worries! Your broccoli will still grow; however, the florets will be a bit smaller.
You will reap the benefits of your broccoli plants within 100-150 days. Once the florets start appearing, make sure you avoid the head when watering, as this could encourage rot (yuck!).
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Listen, we know these guys get a bad wrap, but hear us out: FRESH BRUSSELS SPROUTS ARE AMAZING! Unlike the mushy microwaved stuff your mom used to make you eat at dinner, fresh Brussels sprouts are crisp and delicious, packed with nutrients, and low in calories.
These misunderstood sprouts like the chill of the early season, so it’s best to plant them a few weeks before spring. When planted properly, they take about three months to mature. If you want to grow Brussels sprouts from seeds indoors, start them three weeks before the last spring frost.
A few days before you are ready to plant your Brussels Sprouts, add in a quality manure mix or compost to the soil for added nutrients. Once the soil is prepared, plant your seedlings 12 to 24 inches apart, giving plenty of room for growth. Make sure to water thoroughly at the time of planting, and give 1-1 1/2 inches of water per week for the following weeks.
When growth begins, it starts from the bottom of the stalk up, meaning the sprouts closest to the ground are more mature. Once your Brussels sprouts reach 1 inch in diameter or bigger, they are ready to harvest and enjoy!
Pro tip: Raised beds are ideal for Brussels sprouts, and adding mulch will keep the temperature of the soil cool.
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Last but certainly not least, let's grow some cauliflower! Certainly one of the healthiest vegetables, cauliflower is known for its naturally high fiber content and B-vitamins, and is believed to protect against cancer! Cauliflower is not for the faint of heart, as it can be a bit temperamental with heat or cold. Ideally, the temperature must remain in the 60's consistently. But if you are up for the challenge, the reward is great!
When planting, you must use a nutrient-packed soil like this one, and plant in a sunny spot with 6-8 hours of sun per day. You should also consider using a quality fertilizer to prevent buttoning. Buttoning refers to the cauliflower growing multiple small heads, as opposed to one large one. Plant each seedling 18-24 inches apart, leaving 30 inches between rows. Make sure to keep up with watering, providing the cauliflower with 2 inches of water per week in addition to rainfall.
Cauliflower can take 75-85 days to fully mature. Your cauliflower may not be self-blanching, in which case, you will need to blanch the cauliflower when the head is 3 inches in diameter. To blanch, grab 3-4 outer leaves and fold them over the heads, securing with a rubber band or twine. This process protects the heads during growth, and the cauliflower is typically ready for harvest 7-12 days after blanching.
Pro tip: If an unexpected dip in temperature occurs, you can place old milk cartons over the cauliflower to prevent them from frosting over.
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Let's Get Growing!
Cool-season veggie gardens are a great way to keep busy while also providing yourself with healthy and organic food! These gardens are also a fantastic way to get your kids interested and involved in gardening! For a list of all of our cool-season vegetables, click here and get planting!