15 Hardy Plants to Jumpstart Your Spring Garden

Planning a survival garden requires strategic plant selection, especially for the crucial spring season.

This guide reveals the top “15 Hardy Plants to Jumpstart Your Spring Garden” for an abundant, early yield.

Key Takeaways

  • Discover 15 resilient cool-season crops to sow as soon as the ground is workable
  • Learn ideal planting times, varieties, and growing tips for an early, productive harvest
  • Explore strategies like succession planting to extend your harvests

By mastering the art of growing hardy spring plants tailored to your climate, you’ll jumpstart your survival garden and secure a consistent supply of fresh, nutritious produce all season long.

If you’re looking to extend your gardening season, consider exploring winter gardening techniques as well.

Cool-Season Greens

These leafy greens thrive in cool temperatures and are among the first crops you can sow in early spring:


  • High in vitamins and minerals
  • Prefers cooler soil (45-75°F)
  • Varieties: Bloomsdale, Tyee, Space


  • Quick-growing and versatile
  • Tolerates light frosts
  • Varieties: Buttercrunch, Black Seeded Simpson, Romaine


  • Nutritious and hardy
  • Sweeter flavor after light frost
  • Varieties: Lacinato, Red Russian, Dwarf Blue Curled


  • Peppery flavor, easy to grow
  • Tolerates cool soil and partial shade
  • Varieties: Roquette, Astro, Surrey
CropPlanting TimeDays to Harvest
Spinach4-6 weeks before last frost30-60 days
Lettuce4 weeks before last frost45-60 days
Kale4-6 weeks before last frost55-70 days
Arugula2-4 weeks before last frost30-40 days
  • Sow seeds directly in well-prepared soil or start indoors for an earlier harvest.
  • Succession plant every 2-3 weeks for a continuous supply.
  • Provide partial shade in hot weather to extend the harvest.

Hardy Brassicas

Members of the brassica family, like broccoli and cabbage, are cold-tolerant and can be planted in early spring for a bountiful harvest later in the season.


  • Nutritious and versatile
  • Prefers cooler temperatures
  • Varieties: Packman, Green Magic, Belstar


  • Loves cool weather
  • Blanch for best color and flavor
  • Varieties: Snowball, Cheddar, Graffiti
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Brussels Sprouts

  • Long-season crop, frost-tolerant
  • Develops best flavor after light frosts
  • Varieties: Long Island Improved, Churchill, Franklin


  • Hardy and stores well
  • Grows best in cooler conditions
  • Varieties: Red Express, Golden Acre, Stonehead
CropTransplant OutsideDays to Harvest
Broccoli4-6 weeks before last frost60-90 days
Cauliflower4-6 weeks before last frost70-100 days
Brussels Sprouts4-6 weeks before last frost90-120 days
Cabbage4-6 weeks before last frost60-90 days
  • Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date for transplanting.
  • Provide consistent moisture and fertile, well-draining soil.
  • Use row covers or cloches for added frost protection.

Resilient Root Veggies

Root vegetables are hardy and can withstand cooler soil temperatures, making them ideal for early spring planting. If you’re interested in growing potatoes, a staple survival crop, check out our article on potatoes as a survival crop.


  • Fast-growing and spicy
  • Enjoy as a cool-season crop
  • Varieties: Cherry Belle, French Breakfast, White Icicle


  • Sweet and nutritious
  • Edible greens and roots
  • Varieties: Detroit Dark Red, Chioggia, Golden


  • Hardy and long-lasting
  • Prefer cooler soil temperatures
  • Varieties: Nantes, Danvers, Purple Haze


  • Hardy and versatile
  • Both roots and greens are edible
  • Varieties: Purple Top White Globe, Golden Ball, Hakurei
CropPlanting TimeDays to Harvest
Radishes4 weeks before last frost25-35 days
Beets4-6 weeks before last frost50-70 days
Carrots4-6 weeks before last frost60-90 days
Turnips4-6 weeks before last frost45-65 days
  • Sow seeds directly in the garden after preparing the soil.
  • Thin seedlings for proper spacing and optimal growth.
  • Mulch around plants to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Fragrant Alliums

Alliums, such as onions and garlic, are hardy and easy to grow, making them excellent choices for early spring planting.


  • Versatile and long-storing
  • Grow from sets, seeds, or transplants
  • Varieties: Walla Walla, Stuttgarter, Red Wing


  • Flavorful and pest-resistant
  • Plant in fall for a spring harvest
  • Varieties: Rocambole, Purple Stripe, Elephant


  • Perennial herb with edible leaves and flowers
  • Cold-hardy and low-maintenance
  • Varieties: Grolau, Staro, Slim Jim
See also  12 Fast-Growing Fruit Trees for Your Home Garden
CropPlanting TimeDays to Harvest
Onions (sets)4 weeks before last frost60-120 days
Onions (transplants)4-6 weeks before last frost60-120 days
GarlicFall (6-8 weeks before ground freezes)180-240 days
ChivesEarly spring or fall60-90 days
  • Prepare well-draining soil and add compost or household items for garden fertilizers for optimal growth.
  • Mulch around plants to retain moisture and suppress weeds.
  • Harvest garlic when tops begin to yellow and fall over.

Frost-Tolerant Herbs

Fresh herbs add flavor and nutrition to your dishes, and many varieties can be planted in early spring. For those looking to attract beneficial garden bugs that can help with pest control, consider planting herbs like dill, fennel, and cilantro.


  • Biennial herb with curly or flat-leaf varieties
  • Tolerates light frosts
  • Varieties: Moss Curled, Flat Leaf Italian


  • Grows quickly in cool weather
  • Bolt-resistant varieties available
  • Varieties: Calypso, Santo, Leisure


  • Perennial herb, aggressive spreader
  • Grows well in cooler temperatures
  • Varieties: Spearmint, Peppermint, Chocolate Mint


  • Delicate flavor, often called “gourmet’s parsley”
  • Prefers cool temperatures
  • Varieties: Brussels Winter, Masse, Fernleaf
  • Sow seeds directly in the garden or start indoors for an earlier harvest.
  • Provide well-draining soil and consistent moisture.
  • Harvest frequently to encourage new growth and prevent bolting.

Protecting Early Seedlings

As you start your spring garden, protecting young seedlings from unexpected frosts or cold snaps is crucial for their survival. Be cautious of any dangerous plants that may be growing nearby.

  • Cold frames: These small, unheated structures provide insulation and protect plants from harsh weather conditions.
  • Row covers: Lightweight fabrics or materials placed over plants can trap heat and shield them from frost and wind.
  • Mulching: Apply a thick layer of organic mulch around plants to insulate the soil and protect roots from temperature fluctuations.

Soil Prep Tips

Proper soil preparation is essential for the success of your hardy spring plants. Follow these tips to create an ideal growing environment and avoid common gardening mistakes.

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  • Incorporate nutrient-rich compost or well-rotted manure into the soil to improve fertility and texture.
  • Compost adds essential organic matter, promoting healthy plant growth.


  • Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to provide essential nutrients for your plants.
  • Follow package instructions for appropriate application rates.

Raised Beds

  • Consider constructing raised beds for improved drainage and earlier planting opportunities.
  • Raised beds warm up faster in spring, allowing you to start planting sooner.
  • Test your soil’s pH level and amend it if necessary for optimal plant growth.
  • Loosen the soil by tilling or double-digging to improve aeration and drainage.
  • Remove any debris, rocks, or weeds from the planting area.

If you have limited space, check out our guide on vegetables for small-space gardening.

Succession Planting

To extend your harvest and ensure a continuous supply of fresh produce, implement succession planting:

  • Staggered Sowing: Instead of planting all your seeds at once, sow new crops every 2-3 weeks for a staggered harvest.
  • Extending Harvests: Plant varieties with different maturation times to prolong the harvest season for specific crops.

By employing succession planting techniques, you can enjoy a steady supply of fresh vegetables throughout the growing season. For a list of fast-growing vegetables, check out our dedicated article.

Pest & Disease Prevention

While many hardy spring plants are resilient, taking preventive measures against pests and diseases is crucial for a bountiful harvest.

Crop Rotation

  • Rotate the location of your crops each year to disrupt pest and disease cycles.
  • Avoid planting the same family of plants in the same spot for consecutive seasons.

Companion Planting

  • Strategically plant certain crops together that can deter pests or provide beneficial interactions.
  • For example, planting marigolds with tomatoes can repel nematodes and other pests.

Organic Controls

  • Implement organic pest control methods, such as introducing beneficial insects, using row covers, or applying organic pesticides when necessary.
  • Monitor your plants regularly for signs of pests or diseases and address issues promptly.

By following these preventive measures, you can minimize the risk of pest and disease problems in your spring garden. For more information on common plant diseases, check out our comprehensive guide.


Jumpstarting your garden with hardy spring plants is a rewarding endeavor that pays dividends throughout the growing season. By selecting resilient crops like spinach, broccoli, radishes, onions, and parsley, you can enjoy an early and abundant harvest.

Remember to consider your local climate, prepare your soil adequately using soil hacks, and implement protective measures for your seedlings. With proper planning and care, these 15 hardy plants will thrive and provide a continuous supply of fresh, nutritious produce for your table.

If you’re looking for high-calorie crops to grow in containers, check out our article on high-calorie crops in containers or highest-calorie survival crops for more information.

Embrace the opportunity to kickstart your gardening season and immerse yourself in the joy of cultivating a bountiful spring garden. For those just starting out, our guide to starting a container garden and tips on growing herbs in buckets can be helpful resources.

Happy planting!

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