Think greens. Think onions. Think peas. When your soil dries out a bit, direct seed salad greens and lettuces after you have added some good organic compost to the bed. Order onion sets and slip those in. Direct seed peas according to the directions on the packet. I prefer sugar snap peas so I can eat the whole sweet pod, and around here it’s traditional to serve the first peas with salmon on the fourth of July, because the salmon used to run just as the peas ripened.
In my far northeast corner of Massachusetts, the frost-free date used to be Memorial Day, but it has been creeping earlier, and it can vary. You can find your planting zone at the USDA site. Even within your property, though, you might have warmer or colder micro-climates.
I love that word, micro-climates. Imagine a sheltered south-facing brick wall or stone foundation. If you create a garden bed directly in front of it, the soil warms earlier and whatever you plant should flourish before anywhere else. You can also create your own microclimates with low tunnels: wire hoops and floating row cover constructed over a garden bed. The row cover lets light and rain through but raises the temperature a few degrees. This picture depicts one at New Harmony Farm in West Newbury, but you can easily make a small version of your own for the home garden.
Readers: Have you had luck with spring gardening? What’s your favorite early crop, either from your own plot or from the farmers’ market?
Edith Maxwell writes the Local Foods mystery series from Kensington Publishing, in which geek-turned-organic farmer Cam Flaherty grows produce even in the winter for members of the Locavore club, but also has to solve more than one case of locally sourced murder.