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Top 10 Plants for Early Spring Harvest

If you’re trying to eat local, in-season food, make sure to include these top ten plants for early spring harvest. They will yield the first food in the spring so you can have farm fresh produce as soon as possible.

top 10 plants for early spring harvest

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One of my long term life dreams is to eat only locally grown and produced food, like Barbara Kingsolver did in her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle {one of my most favorite books of all times}. At first thought, it sounds kind of doable, right? I mean, I have a big garden, and I have egg and meat chickens. I’ve also found a source for local pastured pork and organic, local, grassfed beef. But the logistics are really a lot more complicated than my pea-brain can handle. And it would take a REALLY REALLY REALLY big garden to produce enough food to feed my family of six. Maybe some day.

For now, I will be content to do what I can, and that means maximizing every growing season, and this post starts with spring! Enjoy my list of the top 10 plants to consider if you want to get the earliest possible harvest out of your garden.

Top 10 Plants for Early Spring Harvest

bowl of strawberries and asparagus in the grass

Early Spring Perennials

I love perennials because I can plant them once, and reap the rewards for years! It’s also a bonus that a few garden perennials produce some of the earliest food in the spring, so make sure to include them in your garden.

Rhubarb – it seems a lot of people have a love/hate relationship with rhubarb, but I love it. It’s also ready for picking sooner than most other fruits and is delicious in crisps, scones, and made into syrup too!

Strawberries – strawberries are the first berries to ripen, usually late May or early June in my area. Nothing beats a fresh strawberry right out of the garden! And since conventionally grown strawberries are some of the most pesticide laden fruits grown, we prefer to grow our own.

asparagus on a sheet pan for roasting

Asparagus – asparagus is ready for a full harvest the third year after it’s planted. It’s one of the earliest crops of spring – so delicious!! We look forward to fresh asparagus every year.

Spring Veggies to Plant before the Last Frost

Spring Onions / Potatoes – can be directly sown from seed six weeks before the last frost if the ground is workable. Onions grow quickly and the greens can be cut pretty soon after they start growing. If you leave the bulb in the ground and just cut the greens, they will even grow new greens for you!

Potatoes are generally ready for harvest a little later, but you can carefully collect new potatoes without disturbing the plant ten weeks after the potatoes were planted. We use the no-dig planting method to grow potatoes. Learn more here.

Spinach / Kohlrabi / Kale – can be directly sown from seed five weeks before the last frost date. It’s especially important to plant spinach early as it needs six cool weeks to reach maturity and bolts quickly in hot weather.

Peas / Radish / Carrots – can be directly sown from seed four weeks before last frost date. Peas also don’t do well in hot weather, so make sure to plant them as quickly as possible. Every year I have volunteer radish crops in my garden because I let some go to seed in the summer. They are some of the first fresh veggies we eat!

Forellensuss Lettuce

Lettuce / Swiss Chard – can be directly sown from seed two weeks before last frost date. I also have volunteer lettuce in my garden from time to time and love it! Fresh lettuce is just delicious.

Check your seed packets to see which varieties mature the quickest. Some radishes are ready within 25 days! And lettuce is very quick growing too.

A collage of  pictures including strawberries in a bowl, forelenschuss lettuce, and a basket of eggs and lettuce harvest.

What plants do you look forward to most in spring?

These 5 Easy Tips will Help You Keep Fall Mums Alive All Season

Fall mums are an awesome addition to your fall decor! If you’d like to keep your mums alive and beautiful all season, you need to know how to care for mums in the fall. These five tips are all you need to know for beautiful, long lasting mums this fall.
fall mums and pumpkins

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I love decorating with fall mums – available in many colors and varieties, mums are a great addition to your outdoor fall decorating scheme. The have long lasting blooms and look great in pots and landscape as well! Check out all of these pretty ways to decorate with mums from Midwest Family Living! Like most things in life, a little effort will keep your mums looking their best all season long!

How to Care for Mums in the Fall

Re-pot fall mums after you get home

repot fall mums after buying if they are root bound in the pot

It’s important to give your mums room to grow.  Most mums you buy at the store are totally root-bound so make sure to check your mums and put them in a pot at least twice their current size if you want them to keep growing all season.

Place your fall mums in an good location

how to keep your fall mums alive

Mums need at least six hours of sunlight a day, so skip shady locations and make sure to place mums in spots that get plenty of sun! Remember that as the days become shorter the position of the sun changes. A spot that was sunny in the summer may no longer be sunny. Just be mindful of the changing sun position during the fall. If you get your fall mums early in the season, you may need to move them to a new location as fall progresses.

Make sure your fall mums get enough water

make sure to water your fall mums enough to keep them alive all season - Copy

It’s very important not to let your mums dry out or they might just die on you like the one above. Then again, it’s also important not to over water them either. How much water is enough but not too much? That’s the million dollar question. Just make sure the dirt stays moist, but not drenched. 😉

Don’t forget to deadhead to keep fall mums alive

deadhead mums to keep them alive longer - Copy

I know deadheading is no fun, but if you want your mum to re-flower – you have to get rid of the dead ones first. Grab a trusty pair of snips and cut away while listening to your favorite music or chatting with a dear friend. Or just use your fingers. Honestly, I think the easiest way to deahead mums is just to pinch off the dead flowers with my fingers. You have to be careful or you will kill the baby buds that might be lurking under the dead flowers, waiting for their chance to shine!

Cover or bring them inside if it’s going to freeze overnight.

Continued cold weather will kill your mums so watch the forecast. If a freak frost is in the forecast, either cover your mums or bring them inside over night. This practice doesn’t work long term, but it can help your mums last a few more weeks if you want to prolong their lives!

tips for keeping your fall mums beautiful


More posts on fall gardening & plant care you may like:

Tips for decorating for fall

How to start a fall vegetable garden now

How to cover a raised garden bed to extend your growing season

15 Fall gardening tasks 

Types of heirloom garlic to plant this fall

Fun ways to decorate pumpkins without carving

Want to know how to keep fall mums alive all season long? These five easy tips will help you keep your lovely fall mums beautiful for as long as possible!

Shop Your Own Garden to Find Beautiful and Easy Garden Gifts

Are you thinking about Christmas yet? It’s possible to grow beautiful garden gifts you can “shop” for right now!  I know it seems really early, but head on out to your garden and start checking items off that Christmas Gift List. Here are amazing gifts you might already be growing without even realizing it!Shop Your Own Garden to Find Beautiful Garden Gifts

Shop Your Own Garden to Find Beautiful & Easy Garden Gifts

Today’s installment of Tuesdays in the Garden is all about Christmas gift giving. We realize it’s only July, but give yourself a head start this year by thinking about things you can grow or make now! I’d be really happy to add a few completed gifts to my gift box this early in the season. How about you? So today, the Tuesdays in the Garden gang has ideas for gifts you can make {or buy} now to simplify the busy holiday season! It’ll be here sooner than I want to admit.

You can also use this list to get the creative juices flowing for next year’s garden! While it’s entirely likely that you’re already growing beautiful garden gifts right now, you might need to buy seeds for some of the items on this list and grow them next year. With a little bit of thought, you can turn your garden into a great resource for your Christmas gift giving basket. Here are plants I love to grow that also make great gifts!

Grow Beautiful Garden Gifts with these Ideas!

Luffa Sponges

Did you know you can grow your own natural sponges? I had to search through my blog archives to remember when I grew my luffas – and it was 2013! It’s super easy as long as you have a long enough growing season as these gourds take a long time to grow. You’ll also need a trellis or a lot of room because the vines get BIG! But beyond that, all you have to do is wait until the gourds are grown, harvest, dry, clean, and cut. It’s really not hard. I buy luffa seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and I’d love to grow these again next year.

grow ornamental corn to give as gifts

Ornamental Corn

I love ornamental corn. I don’t have any growing in my garden this year, but I did grow Heirloom Glass Gem Corn last year. I have had plans for turning the gorgeous corn into a wreath or some sort of swag but haven’t done it yet. I also love the kernels just by themselves! It would be easy to take them off the cob and put them in a jar for a lovely addition to a fall table centerpiece!

Gourds

In addition to luffas, all kinds of gourds make great gifts. My grandpa in particular used to love turning gourds I grew into bird houses for his yard. I sure wish I had taken some pictures of his birdhouses. 🙁 You can also grow gourds  and turn them into lanterns, bird feeders, and bird houses, maracas,  and bowls. Again, you need space (or a trellis) and a long growing season to grow most gourds. Do you have a favorite gourd to grow?

Dried Beans

As I write this post, I realize what an abysmal failure my garden is this year. I’m really growing very few of the items on this list right now and that makes me sad. But another thing I enjoy growing in my garden are beans to dry. I really like things that are easy, and what’s easier than planting beans and then leaving them alone until they are dead and dry? I learned about 3 Sisters Gardens (the agricultural method Native Americans used in my area long ago to grown corn, beans, and squash) several years ago and enjoy watching beans trellis up corn. It is a little tricky harvesting the beans at the end, but with a little bit of effort it works. The dried beans make great soup and a jar of dried beans makes a practical and pretty gift with little effort on your part.

Herbs

One thing that is growing in abundance this year in my garden are the herbs. I have way more than I can personally use, but I can cut and dry them and give home dried herbs as another practical gift! Do you have too many herbs in your garden too? Think about preserving extra to give to family and friends this year!

Dried Peppers

Again, not a current problem in my garden, but in years past I have had pepper bushes that looked like that! Way too many peppers for me to enjoy. Beyond canning or freezing them, you can also dry them out and make fabulous pepper strings or wreaths to give! Isn’t it amazing to think about all of the ways we can shop our own gardens and make fun and practical gifts to give at Christmas? I hope you’re getting inspired.

dry your own flowers to give as gifts

Flowers

Do you know anyone who likes dried flower arrangements? If you think about the flowers you have in your garden right now, you can probably come up with ideas for lovely dried flower arrangements you can make yourself. To dry them – simply hang them upside down in a dark area for several weeks. I grow a lot of sunflowers and zinnias that aren’t hard to dry. I know a lot of people also like dried hydrangeas. Do you like dried flowers?

Canning

Of course, you can also give home canned goodness from your garden bounty too! Some of my favorite canned goods are homemade dill pickles, strawberry sauce, and crushed tomatoes!

Need more ideas for homemade Christmas gifts? Here are many more ideas for gifts you can make out of photographs and more homemade garden gifts! Here’s also a really nice list of garden related gifts you can buy if you’re not inclined to make gifts!

Tuesdays in the Garden

And now check out what my friends have in store for you! We’ve got a lot more ways to use up the bounty you have growing in your garden. Pop on over and take a look at all the fabulous ideas!

hearth & vine

Test Tube Dried Flowers & Herbs from Patti at Hearth & Vine

tuesdays in the garden

DIY Garden Gift Ideas from Jami at An Oregon Cottage

frugal family home

10 Gift Ideas from the Garden from Shelly at Frugal Family Home

diane homemade food junkie

Tomato Salsa to Can from Diane at Homemade Food Junkie

angie freckled rose

5 Fantastic Garden Gifts from Angie @The Freckled Rose

Shop your own garden for beautiful and easy garden gifts this summer! You can to grow beautiful garden gifts to give this Christmas with this handy list.

Grow a Beautiful & Colorful Cutting Flower Container Garden!


You don’t need a huge space to grow a beautiful and colorful flower cutting garden! All you need are the right flowers, some pots, and a little bit of inspiration, and you can have beautiful flower arrangements in your home from flowers you grow yourself.

Grow your own Cutting Flower Container Garden. You don't have to have a big space to grow your own flowers. These helpful tips will help you get started!

Grow a Beautiful & Colorful Cutting Flower Container Garden!

Happy Tuesday, my gardening Friends, and welcome back to Tuesdays in the Garden. Today, my friends and I are talking blooms. Beautiful, bright, pollinator attracting blooms. Who doesn’t love flowers in the garden? We have lots of beautiful posts for you to check out and I hope they inspire you to add some pops of color to your own outside decor this year.

Homemade flower arrangement

One thing I really love about gardening is being able to bring lovely blooms in my house. I always have irises, sunflowers, and zinnias in my garden to bring indoors, but I haven’t been great about establishing other blooms for cutting. This year I’m trying something new – a cutting flower container garden near my front door. I put this container garden together last week using beautiful and prolific blooms which I look forward to cutting for lovely indoor flower arrangements.

Monrovia flowers that grow well in containers

I’m excited to partner with Monrovia Plants for this post because I always love when the Monrovia flowers start showing up at my local Lowe’s stores. Do you remember the Butterfly Garden in a Pot that I made a couple years ago? I also partnered with Monrovia on that post as well. 🙂

Monrovia Flower displays at Lowes

I love this time of year when the flowers arrive at gardening nurseries. The colors, the scents, I love everything about the gorgeous displays of Monrovia flowers at the nurseries. Not only can you go to Lowe’s to buy Monrovia plants, but you can also head over to their website to do a bit of research as well. Plug your zip code in here and find out what will grow well in your area! See something you like? Have it shipped directly to your store with free shipping.

Colorful Cutting Flower Container Garden

Flowers that Grow Well in Containers

For my cutting flower container garden, I wanted prolific bloomers, preferably flowers that will do well in containers. I found so much beauty and information at the Monrovia Grow Beautifully Blog I encourage you to check it out too! Based on the information at Monrovia, I chose these blooms for my cutting flower container garden:

I looked for descriptions like masses of bright flowers, compact growth habit, perfect for mixed containers and cutting gardens, and amazing large blooms. I’ll be perfectly honest with you and let you know that I’ve never grown dahlias in containers before but I’m excited to see how it works. One thing I love about the beautiful dahlia is that as a perennial, they can come back each year. The downside is that my zone is too cold, and unless I did up the roots and bring them indoors to over winter, they won’t survive. That’s just not going to happen, but bringing a pot indoors is well within my abilities. We’ll see if it works! Call it a fun experiment. 😀

Cutting Flower Container Garden SLL

Container Garden Tips

Once I brought my plants home, I selected large, well draining pots and got to work planting my flowers. I placed them on the boardwalk patio outside our passive-aggressive house. I like having them close to the house because it will make them easier to water and cut to bring indoors. If you’d like to grow a cutting flower container garden, make sure to follow these tips:

  • Make sure to use a large container so there’s room for growth.
  • Use a high quality potting soil to give the plants better nutrients
  • Don’t forget mulch because it’s not just for traditional gardens. It also helps the plants maintain moisture in containers as well.
  • Find a high quality, natural fertilizer to keep your plants healthy.
  • Don’t forget to water!!

Tuesdays in the Garden 2017

Tuesdays in the Garden

And now it’s time to see what my gardening friends are up to. As promised, we’ve got a lot of great posts for you. I hope you’ll pop over and see what they’re up to!

Frugal Family Home

From Shelly at @FrugalFamilyHome – Favorite Spring Flowers

Hearth & Vine

From Patti at @Hearth & Vine – Favorite Scented Plants for the Garden

Angie the Freckled Rose

From Angie at @TheFreckledRose – Favorite Flowering Vines for Your Garden

An Oregon Cottage

From Jami at @AnOregonCottage – Favorite Plants for Gardening in the Shade

homemade food junkie

From Diane at @HomemadeFoodJunkie – 5 Bushes to Attract & Support Birds

Grow your own cutting flower container garden and enjoy fresh flowers in your home all summer.