10 Must-Grow Spring Vegetables

gardening31. Tomatoes

Best Time to Plant: March-April (transplant)
Tomatoes are one of the most popular home gardening crops. They are a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C. Slicing tomatoes, also known as beefsteak tomatoes, produce medium to large fruits that are great for burgers and sandwiches. Bite-size tomatoes are packed with flavor and available in a variety of shades from red to yellow. A $2 tomato plant can grow 10 pounds worth of produce!

2. Sweet Peppers

Best Time to Plant: March-May (transplant)
Peppers prefer a long, warm growing season. Peppers will start out green and change color as they ripen. As peppers change from green to yellow, orange, or red, both their flavor and their vitamin content improves significantly. Fully ripened, garden-grown peppers will tempt the taste buds of almost anyone. Peppers are great as a snack or can be grilled, stuffed or baked to accompany a variety of meals.

3. Hot Peppers

Best Time to Plant: March-May (transplant)
Hot peppers are great for bringing bold bursts of flavor to dishes and for making fresh salsa with your home-grown tomatoes. Chili peppers offer a numerous range of varieties that range from mild to fiery hot and ripen through a wide range of colors from yellow, orange, purple and even brown. One plant produces several peppers during a growing season, so it is best to plant transplants instead of seeds.

4.  Cucumbers

Best Time to Plant: March-May
Cucumbers are very easy to grow from seed and can be eaten fresh or preserved as pickles. Even though long, dark green, smooth-skinned cucumbers are most familiar, cucumbers actually come in a wide variety of colors, sizes, shapes, and textures. There are white, yellow, and even orange-colored varieties that may be short, slightly oval, or even round in shape while the skin can smooth or rough. To keep the trailing cucumber vines from sprawling across the garden provide a sturdy trellis. Cucumbers mature quickly, so be sure to pick cucumbers before they turn yellow and over ripen.

gardening25. Carrots

Best Time to Plant: February-March
Carrots are an excellent source for vitamin A and make a great snack for both adults and kids and add color to your meals. They will grow in small gardens and even flower beds and are able to tolerate a little bit of shade as well. One foot row of seeds will produce about one pound of carrots. Try to avoid skinning carrots to preserve all the nutrients.

6. Squash

Best Time to Plant: March-May
Squash is a popular warm-season vegetable that grows well in most areas and offers several different varieties, including yellow squash, scallop, zucchini, acorn, and butternut. Summer squash offers delicate flavors, soft shells and creamy white flesh that is a perfect addition to any summer meal. Summer squash is more fragile than winter squash and must be frozen if not eaten soon after harvesting. Winter squash is a rich source of plant based anti-inflammatory nutrients. Seeds from winter squash make a great snack food (similar to pumpkin seeds).

7. Beans

Best Time to Plant: March-April
From bush and snap beans to edamame, these are some of the easiest vegetables to grow. Beans germinate quickly and produce bountiful amounts of tasty delights. Choose between a wide variety of shapes, colors and sizes. Some bean plants produce pods, seeds and colorful flowers.

gardening48. Eggplant

Best Time to Plant: March-May
Eggplants are great baked, grilled, roasted, stewed, or stuffed to provide excellent source of fiber along with a fair amount of iron, potassium, and protein. The traditional “black bell” eggplant can produce four to six large fruits. To determine ripeness, remember that skin color and tone (glossy versus dull) is more important than size.

9. Broccoli

Best Time to Plant: February-March
This vitamin rich crop is an ideal choice for your home garden since it produces quickly and can be harvested several times. Broccoli is considered a nutritional superfood that will boost your immune system, help maintain strong bone, and protect against cancer and heart disease. Broccoli is delicious raw or steamed. The stems are also edible. Try peeling away the chewy outer skin, slicing them and then cooking the stems along with the florets. Garden fresh broccoli is very tender, so be careful not to overcook it.

10. Sweet Potatoes

Best Time to Plant: April-May
Make sure to plant in a warm environment with plenty of sun to develop the maximum flavor and sweetness. These flavorful tubers also produce colorful flowers, as well as sprawling vines often used as groundcover. Orange-flesh sweet potatoes aren’t the only variety available. White-fleshed varieties are good sources of B vitamins and minerals, while purple sweet potatoes are fully loaded with antioxidants. Sweet potatoes can be baked, boiled, mashed or stir-fried and can be enhanced with a wide range of spices and seasonings.

Several YMCA’s in the Greater Houston area are home to gardens. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer at one of our community gardens, please contact the D. Bradley McWilliams Family YMCA, Trotter Family YMCAT.W. Davis Family YMCA or Vic Coppinger Family YMCA.

Jordyn Forsyth is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She specializes in weight management, chronic disease prevention and health promotion. Jordyn strives to educate, empower and encourage others to make sustainable lifestyle changes. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition Sciences from Baylor University and a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University.

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