In the past year we’ve tried just about everything to entertain ourselves, from buying an air fryer to testing the waters of inflatable hot tubs, but one of our absolute favorite new hobbies has been gardening. Although we may still need a coat to go outside — depending on where home is — we’ve got our eyes on spring and are ready to get our hands dirty all over again STAT.
Mary Buri, garden designer and founder of Mars Kitchen Garden — a custom vegetable garden design, installation and coaching service — explains, “The cool temperatures of early spring offer an often overlooked opportunity for some of the easiest and most satisfying gardening all year round. Spring crops grow fast, need minimal tending and watering, and dodge most pest and disease pressure. With just a little late-winter planning, you can watch flowers grow and harvest homegrown veggies before many of your neighbors even get started.”
Sweet Yards Seed Co. Calendula ‘Pacific Beauty Mix,’ Over 3,000 Open-Pollinated Seeds ($7.95; amazon.com)
Calendula’s orange petals stand out in any garden, but their color isn’t the only thing Buri loves about them. She says they’re edible, medicinal and “one of the easiest flowers to grow from seed.” Plant the seeds up to three weeks before the last frost date in a container or right in the veggie patch. Buri advises that this edible herb can be happy in just about any climate and will mercifully survive a sporadic watering habit.
Seed Needs Old Spice Sweet Pea, 400 Seeds ($9.50; amazon.com)
“Don’t let the name fool you,” Buri says. “Savor sweet pea’s scent, but don’t eat its slightly toxic blooms.” Plant sweet pea seeds up to four weeks before the last frost date in containers along with a trellis or something else for these colorful vines to climb, and let spring come early this year.
Bloomscape Red Geraniums Accent Kit ($45; bloomscape.com)
These big red geranium blossoms will last all spring and come in a simple kit from Bloomscape. Three small starter plants are included, and Bloomscape offers to add on a hanging or standing pot and potting mix to complete the purchase if you’d like.
Outsidepride Nasturtium Seed Mix ($12.99; amazon.com)
“Nasturtium is gorgeous and indispensable in the kitchen garden as a companion plant that deters pests from your precious veggies,” says Buri. She plants these trailing flowers along the edges of raised beds or in hanging pots a week or two after the last frost date. Amazingly, the entire nasturtium plant is edible — seeds, peppery leaves and pretty flowers that are beautiful and delicious decorations for cakes, salads or any plating.
Outsidepride Zinnia Flower Seed Mix, 1,000 Seeds ($6.49; amazon.com)
These bright, colorful meadow flowers bloom heavily, can be cut at any length and look great in tall vases. Buri advises that zinnia should be planted “later in the spring, beginning a week or two after your last frost date.” She also shares that the more they’re cut, the more they grow, so enjoy their beauty and their edible petals as much as humanly possible.
Bloomscape Red Begonia, Purple Torenia and Mezoo Combination Kit (starting at $45; bloomscape.com)
Choose from either a set of 8 or a set of 16 starter plants that are designed to fit into an 11- to 20-inch planter or window box. Their purple, pink and red colors will brighten any partial or full-shade corner.
BeyondRoots 100% Edible Flower Seeds ($17.97; amazon.com)
A quick way to get started is to grab a kit like this one that comes with nine different certified organic non-GMO edible flower seed packets guaranteed to grow if planted within a year of purchase. That means almost any frost zone can be accommodated. Appreciate the flowering plants and the delicious bounty of lavender, echinacea, calendula, borage, wildflower, chamomile and Thai basil. The kit comes with handy plant markers too.
Sow Right Seeds Arugula, 900 Seeds ($5.49, originally $5.99; amazon.com)
Buri shares that “arugula and other greens like spinach and tatsoi grow quickest and sweetest in cool weather, making them the closest thing to instant salad gratification you can get this spring.” These seeds do well in pots or raised beds and can be harvested in about 20 days.
Seeds of Change Sugar Pod Snow Peas ($5.36; amazon.com)
Not to be confused with the sweet peas flowers above, snap peas, snow peas and shelling peas are edible and are very happy to grow in pots and raised beds alike. “If you don’t have a trellis for them to climb, no sweat. Just choose a compact, non-vining variety — labeled ‘dwarf’ or ‘bush.’ All peas taste best when they mature before the warmth of early summer,” Buri advises.
Bonnie Plants Romaine Lettuce ($3.98; homedepot.com)
Nurseries begin offering a variety of gorgeous lettuce “starter plants” in early spring. These live starter plants let you get a head start on your spring garden, and you’ll be harvesting salad leaves throughout the spring rather than waiting weeks for the first harvest to come up from seeds.
Beyond Roots Certified Organic Garden Salad Vegetable Seeds ($15.97; amazon.com)
Why plant just one vegetable when you can plant the whole salad? This kit comes with nine heirloom seed packets, plant markers and a nifty gift box. Enjoy your very own homegrown cherry tomatoes, romaine lettuce, broccoli, cucumbers, radishes, sugar snap peas, arugula and basil.
2021 Old Farmer’s Almanac (starting at $2.99; amazon.com)
Since 1793, the Old Farmer’s Almanac has been providing practical farming information, life advice and a healthy dose of humor. It’s become a yearly must-have for one of our editors.
Felco F-2 Classic Manual Hand Pruner ($54.81, originally $73.99; amazon.com)
Though spring veggies require little pruning, a good pair of shears is still essential to every gardener. “Felco 2 shears are the gold standard,” shares Buri. But for more delicate pruning jobs, she loves a pair of straight shears too.
Homarden Copper-Colored Watering Can ($24.98; amazon.com)
For small starter plants or container gardens, this stylish metal watering can is as useful as it is beautiful on display.
CraftAndCunning Macramé Plant Hanger (starting at $16.50; etsy.com)
We think hanging plants look really cool, and it keeps smaller outdoor spaces like balconies clear for foot traffic. This recycled cotton macramé plant hanger comes in three different lengths and eight color options that will bring a little bohemian accent to any spring growing plan. Note: These don’t come with a pot.
TheArtisanVariety Large Terra-Cotta Belly Pot ($85; etsy.com)
A spacious terra-cotta planter like this one is impressive to behold indoors or outdoors and makes a great home for larger plants, vegetables and vines to flourish.
Foyuee Raised Planter Box ($95, originally $109.99; amazon.com)
This top-rated, handy raised planter comes on wheels and has a shelf underneath for extra storage.
TheSnarkier High Stakes Eyes Trellis ($46.95; etsy.com)
If a little bit of whimsy is on your spring gardening list, then this trellis is a win. It’s 24 inches tall and features six hand-bent metal eye shapes for vines to climb. Choose from a slew of color combinations and then drop it in a 6-, 8- or 10-inch pot for your favorite small vine.