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Reap the Rewards of a Spring Garden:  Early Planting for New Jersey

Spring has sprung.  It officially reappeared on March 19, 2024.  What better way to celebrate the return of warmer weather and longer days than to create a Spring Garden?


“The glory of gardening:  hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature.  To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul”.

                                                                                                                        Alfred Austin


Having a garden can do great things for you.  Yes, it can provide beauty and/or sustenance.  It also allows you to reconnect to nature. 


The acts of planting, growing, and caring for a garden can allow you to step back from your day to day.   It gives you a space to immerse yourself in a peaceful and soothing environment that you create just for you.


There are options for the type of garden, or gardens, you can have.  You may like flowers, vegetables/fruits, or herbs.  Perhaps you’d like to try a little of them all.


“There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments”.

                                                                                                Janet Kilburn Phillips


Ideally, plants will thrive outside after the last danger of frost has passed.  This year the last frost is forecast to happen  April 21st  to  April 30th in Ocean County, New Jersey.


To find out the last frost dates where you live, click on:  Plant Maps.


I have often been fooled by a burst of warm weather that prompted me to get out and get my hands busy playing in the dirt.  Every so often, Jack Frost has paid one last sneaky visit right after that. 


If you can’t wait, like me, and decide to plant early, keep a weather-eye for those cold dips that can happen.  If there is a forecast for frost, you will want to cover up your planted beds to protect the delicate new growth in your Spring Garden.



“Flowers are restful to look at.  They have neither emotions nor conflicts”.

                                                                                                                        Sigmund Freud


Many people venturing out after the long cold winter like the vibrancy of colorful flowers to brighten things up. 


If you are one of those people, you can start with flowers indoors for some springtime color now.  Then you can transplant them to your Spring Gardens after that last frost. 


Shore River Gardens in Manasquan, New Jersey recommends some popular annuals for the early spring.  Those include Pansies, Violas, Primrose, Ranunculus, Snapdragons, and Dianthus.


Flowers are in vibrant abundance in garden centers and nurseries everywhere.  You can get them in flats, hanging baskets, and pots.  Any of these options will be easy to move to outdoors a little later.


“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato”.

                                                                                                            Lewis Grizzard


There is something satisfying about growing your own food, no matter if it is a tomato or a potato. 


Vegetable gardens go beyond the beauty of flowers.  They provide you the reward of healthy food on your table.


Plants that can do well in an early Spring Garden are hearty vegetables including carrots, cauliflower, lettuce, peas, potatoes, and radishes. 


According to Almanac, the best times to plant these vegetables in Ocean County, New Jersey this year is:


Carrots from seeds:  April 2-16

Cauliflower from seedlings or transplants:  April 23-May 7

Lettuce from seedlings or transplants:  April 9-16, seeds:  April 2-9

Peas from seeds:  April 2-9

Potatoes from seeds:  April 2-16

Radishes from seeds:  April 2-9


Those dates sound far off, but they sneak up on you fast.  Now would be a good time to visit your local farm or nursery to get what you need to start your Spring Garden.


To find out the best time to plant your favorite vegetables in the area you live in, click on:   The Old Farmer’s Almanac.


I picked up a little tip from Bob’s Garden Center in Egg Harbor.  It may help you get the most out of your vegetables throughout the growing season. 


They recommend staggering out the planting of each of your individual vegetables over a couple of weeks.  This can help you in two ways. 


Your vegetables will be ready to harvest at different times extending your harvesting season. You will also be less likely to throw vegetables away from having too many ready to eat at the same time.


“Herbs are the friend of the physician and the pride of cooks”.



Gardening is not just for those who have yards.  Even if you live in an apartment, you can enjoy some Spring gardening.


An easy way to get started is with herbs.  Thyme, rosemary, dill, lavender…Pick your favorite herbs and find a good sunny spot in your space for them to grow.


Caren White, The Herb Lady from Rutgers University, recommends starting off with plastic containers in a spot that gets 6 to 8 hours of sun each day.  Along with watering each day, you’ll be enjoying the fruits of your labors soon.


The bonus to indoor herb pots is that you don’t have to wait for the Spring Garden weather to come around.  You will have the satisfaction of fresh herbs any time you want them.


“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece”.

                                                                                                Claude Monet


Your garden is about you.  There is no right way to have a garden.  Start small and keep going.  If one plant doesn’t work out in one place, try it in another.


The act of creating your Spring Garden is therapeutic and will give you far more in returns for just a little of your time and caring.


Flowers, vegetables, fruits, herbs, pick what you like.  You can even mix them up.  You will learn as you go.


There are great gardening centers, local farms, and nurseries that can give you guidance along the way as well as picking up new plants.  To get you started here are the ones that were included in this article:


Bob’s Garden Center

(609) 641-6306

6610 Black Horse Pike

Egg Harbor Township, NJ


Shore River Gardens

(732) 962-3162

1441 Lakewood Road

Manasquan, NJ


“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”.

                                                                                    Audrey Hepburn


We wish you a happy gardening season.  We’d love to hear about your Spring Garden.  Tell us about your experiences in the comments.


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