When to Plant Early Spring Vegetables in NJ
For new gardeners in NJ: of course, the below dates are only an approximation. If you're not home on April 1, it's okay to plant your carrots on April 7! Note: The last frost in NJ Zone 6 is typically May 15. Schedule your garden planting accordingly!
March 15: Peas and Radishes.
Peas. The "first" plant of the early spring gardening season, avid gardeners get excited to sow their pea seeds right around St. Patrick's Day—even if there's still snow on the ground. Climbing peas will require a trellis, placed close to but not directly on top of the area where you planted your pea seeds. Bush type plants can stand alone without a trellis.
Radishes. Put your radish seeds into the ground as early as you plant the peas, next to where you plan to plant the carrots. Once they take root, they will prevent the soil around the carrots from clumping, which is a perfect condition for growing strong, straight carrots... and the radishes will like it, too!
April 1-15: Spinach and Lettuce.
Spinach. Prep your garden beds well, turning with a good compost mix, before planting spinach. You can sow seeds directly in the ground 4-6 weeks before the last frost; so, in NJ, plant your spinach sometime between April 1 and April 15. Keep seeds evenly moistened until they begin to sprout. Once plants take hold, supplement the soil with more composted soil, about a month after they've been in the ground.
Lettuce. Plant an average of up to 6 weeks prior to the last NJ frost (April 1). Lettuce can be fun for children to help plant, as all that's required is an even sprinkling of the tiny seeds over a bed of loose soil that has been well fertilized. Once the seeds are down, cover with a light layer of more soil. You may want to plant your lettuce in a partially-shaded area, as too much direct sun can scorch the plants or cause them to bolt early.
April 15: Carrots and Beets
Carrots. Plant carrots as early as one month before the anticipated last frost date; so that means carrot planting time is around April 15 in New Jersey. Be aware though, that carrots are difficult to grow due to their preference for loose, sandy soil. You may wish to mix extra sand into the area of the garden where you plan to grow your carrots; otherwise, you can end up with oddly-shaped little nubby "fingers" instead of fat, strong carrots.
Beets. Beets are very easy to grow and taste much better if they mature before the weather becomes too hot. In NJ, it's safe to plant beets directly in the soil at around April 15 which is one month before the expected final frost date. Both beet roots and beet greens are a nutritious and delicious addition to your menu.
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