From the Desk of Ed Hume: Hardy Vegetables

March 24, 2010 at 12:45 AM Leave a comment

If you’re anxious to get out in the vegetable garden and start planting, be certain you select and plant the hardiest vegetables.  Of course, temperatures vary from one area to another and at different elevations, so what can be planted in one area may be too early to plant in another.  Probably the best guide is recent weather conditions.   As a rule, we say to start planting hardy vegetables when there is no danger of frost.  So which vegetables are the hardiest?

You can start right now planting the perennial vegetables like asparagus and rhubarb.  Plant them at the edge of the vegetable garden so they’re not in the way when you cultivate or till the garden space.  In cold areas like Eastern Washington, the asparagus can be planted at a depth of 6 or 8 inches.   However, in a wetter marine climate such as West of the Cascade Mountains, I suggest you plant asparagus only about two inches deep.   You can mound soil up around the base of the stalks as they grow, if you wish, but be certain to plant them shallow at planting time.  The rhubarb roots are planted just below ground level.

The next group of hardy vegetables are the green crops of Swiss chard, spinach, lettuce, and mescluns.   Kale, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and brussels sprouts can also be seeded outdoors after all danger of frost.  Or, you can start the seeds earlier indoors then plant out the new seedling plants once the danger of frost has passed.

The hardiest of the early root crops are carrots, beets, radishes, turnips, etc.  Barely cover these seeds when you sow them.   In fact, the best rule is to sow the seeds at the depth recommended on the backside of the seed packet.  It’s important to seed root crops directly into the garden.  Don’t start the seeds indoors, because transplanting disturbs the root growth and often affects (forking or misshapen) root development, which makes it more difficult to prepare and use the root vegetables.

Peas are another early crop.  Sow the seeds in rows that run in a North-South direction for best sun exposure and good air circulation.  Actually, peas can be planted as early as mid-to-late February in most areas of the Northwest.  Wait a month to 6 weeks later for the colder areas.

Late April and May are better months for planting the warm weather crops like beans, corn, cucumbers, squash, melons, peppers, etc..  If you are confused about the best time for planting or seeding, refer to the backside of a seed packet as it has some value information which should serve as a guide to the correct seeding/planting time.

Avoid sowing seed or setting out seedlings when the soil is too wet.  Like I say practically every week, use good common sense when it comes to accomplishing any garden project.

Check out our web site – – for a more detailed guide to suggested planting/seed sowing times.


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Ed’s Podcasts: Perennial Vegetables Clip of the Week: Sowing Leaf Crops

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