How to Grow Early Season Crops

If you’re one of those gardeners who itches to dig in early, the good news is that you can!

If you’re one of those gardeners who itches to dig in early, the good news is that you can! Early-season crops are vegetables and herbs that can be planted before the last spring frost and are usually harvested before the summer heat arrives. These crops can typically withstand the cooler temperatures and most can be planted as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. Some early-season crops that are easy to grow are Lettuce, Spinach, Kale, Radishes, Peas, Turnip, Broccoli, Cabbage, and Onions. One thing to consider when starting a spring garden is whether you want to grow your crops from seed or a starter plant. Keep reading to find out what’s best suited for you and get tips on how to plant them.

Seed vs Starter Plant

Firstly, what’s the difference between growing from seed and growing from a starter plant? Growing plants from seed involves starting with the basic seed and nurturing it through germination and early growth stages, which requires patience and attention to detail.

On the other hand, growing from a starter plant involves beginning with a more mature plant, skipping the initial germination process, and often providing a quicker and more predictable outcome with less time and effort.

Find out what kind of gardener you are by asking yourself the questions below. Whatever group you say “yes” to more, will give you a good indication of whether you should grow from seed or starter.


  1. Do I have the time and patience to nurture plants from seeds?
  2. Am I interested in having greater control over the growing conditions?
  3. Am I interested in learning about the entire growth process of plants?
  4. Is my budget for gardening on the tighter side?
  5. Do I have the space to start plants from seeds in trays indoors?


  1. Do I prefer the convenience (less time and effort) of established plants?
  2. Am I comfortable with having less control over growing conditions?
  3. Am I eager to see immediate results in my garden, like early harvests?
  4. Do I have the budget to invest in starter plants which may be more expensive upfront than seeds?
  5. Am I primarily focused on the result of having mature plants in my garden?

Start Seeds Indoors

The goal of seed starting indoors is to have your young plants ready to plant outside once the weather conditions are right. Here are some planting tips that’ll cultivate success.

  • Use shallow trays or pots with drainage — a great hack is making your containers out of yogurt cups or milk cartons by adding drainage holes.
  • Fill your containers with Miracle-Gro® Seed Starting Potting Mix and moisten the soil so it’s damp.
  • Sow your seeds following the directions on the seed packet for planting depth.
  • Cover your container with plastic wrap with a few holes poked through to help maintain humidity.
  • Place the containers in a sunny spot — if you lack a sunny room you’ll need to add supplemental lighting.
  • Keep an eye on it, once the seeds start to germinate you can remove the plastic.
  • Once the seedlings are large enough, you’ll need to transition them to outdoor conditions (if the temperature drops below 45 degrees, you’ll want to bring them back indoors).
  • Once they’re fully acclimated to the outdoor weather, you can plant them in your garden.

Grow from Seed Outdoors

If you live in a region that doesn’t warm up until later in the season but want to plant directly in soil outdoors, these seeds are the easiest to grow in cool weather conditions.

Salad Greens, including lettuces like Leaf, Romaine, and Butterhead, Arugula, and Mustard Greens

Scatter the seeds across the soil surface of your garden bed that has been prepared with Miracle-Gro® Organic Raised Bed & Garden Soil.

Spring Radishes, AKA Salad Radishes

If left in the ground too long, radishes will turn woody or spongy, so it’s best to harvest them as soon as they’re ready.


A single seed can produce multiple seedlings. So remove excess seedlings that have sprouted in close proximity — ensuring there is about 4 inches of space around each sprout for the roots to develop.


Sow your seeds 1 inch deep and 2 inches apart in Miracle-Gro® Organic Raised Bed & Garden Soil and add a support system like a trellis they can climb up.

Growing From Starter Plants

There are far fewer steps when growing from a starter plant versus seeds. However, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. You still need to ensure you set your starter plants up for success by using the right products for them to thrive and protect them from the early spring weather.

One big no-no people make is that they use insufficient soil; this could lead to waterlogging, pest infestation, and nutrient deficiencies which could result in poor plant growth and development. So although your starter plants arrive strong and healthy, it’s up to you to make sure they stay that way. Here’s how you can do that…

Tips for Growing in Containers

If container gardening is your thing, choose a container with holes in the bottom and pour in a potting mix with plenty of nutrients and efficient drainage, like Miracle-Gro® Potting Mix. Fill it to an inch or 2 below the rim, and you're ready to plant.

Tips for Growing in a Raised Garden Bed

First, you’ll want to remove any debris or weeds you see and loosen up the existing soil by turning it with a shovel or digging fork. Then mix Miracle-Gro® Organic Raised Bed & Garden Soil into the existing soil and rake until it’s even. Plant your starter plants then add a layer of Miracle-Gro® Organic All Natural Mulch to help control weeds and keep the soil moist.

Protecting your Crops

You’ll want to protect your plants from any lingering frost or temperatures below freezing. The best way to ensure your little ones survive the late-season freeze [MOU1] is by covering them with a frost blanket. If you have individual plants scattered about, you’ll want to use cloches, which are singular glass or plastic dome-like covers to protect them.

Whether you choose seed or starter plants, be sure to keep feeding your crops with Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food every 2 weeks for a quality harvest.

Happy growing!

[MOU1] a late-season freeze.

Note: Early-season is used in fall when frost/freeze comes earlier than expected. In the spring, late-season is used for frost/freeze when it comes later than expected.