Famous for being packed with nutrients, broccoli is tasty and easy to grow. Like the other plants you'll see in this slideshow, the plant is quite frost tolerant. Plant it about a month before your area's average last spring frost date. Because broccoli loves cool weather, you can also plant it in late summer for fall harvests.
Here's a hint: If you keep many of the leaves on the plant after harvesting your broccoli, the plants should produce sideshoots that'll give you a second or even third crop.
Standout Variety: 'Packman', which bears uniform heads and matures in about 55 days.
Watch this short video to learn more about enjoying cool-season vegetables in your garden.
Cabbages can be as ornamental as they are edible. There are many different types; pick varieties called early cabbage (such as 'Earliana') for spring harvests. Late cabbage varieties (such as 'Vantage Point') are better for planting in midsummer and harvesting in fall.
Here's a hint: Add color to your vegetable garden with red-leaf cabbage varieties such as 'Ruby Ball' or 'Super Red'.
Standout Variety: 'Gonzales', which bears softball-size heads in about 60 days.
Add a touch of beauty to spring and fall vegetable gardens with edible flowers. Calendula is a favorite for its cheery cream, yellow, or orange daisy-like blooms. Use the petals, which have a zingy, peppery flavor, to add color and interest to salads and cream-based soups.
Here's a hint: Calendula also dries well, making it a good pick for garden craft projects.
Standout Variety: 'Porcupine', which bears orange blooms with distinct, quill-like petals.
Enjoy tasty carrots spring, summer, and fall. While you won't have big, long roots in spring, smaller selections such as 'Thumbelina' are perfect for early planting. Harvest carrots as soon as the roots are large enough to eat.
Here's a hint: Carrots get sweeter as the temperature cools. Pile mulch over the roots to keep the soil from freezing and harvest them through late fall and early winter.
Standout Variety: 'Thumbelina', an award-winning variety that matures about in 65 days.
Begin harvesting this perennial herb as soon as its new leaves appear in spring. The foliage has the classic chives flavor, but the late-spring blooms are edible, too, and taste more of onion.
Here's a hint: Pick off faded blooms if you don't harvest them. Chives can self-seed prolifically in the garden.
One of the vegetable garden's most versatile plants, lettuce comes in an amazing array of colors, shapes, and tastes. Plant a few seeds every week and you'll have a constant crop for fresh salads.
Here's a hint: Planting lettuce in a shady spot in the summer months keeps the plant cool, so you can harvest into the hot months.
Standout Variety: 'Red Sails', an award-winning variety with reddish-bronze leaves. It's ready for harvest in 45 days.
Pansies grace spring and fall gardens with their cheery, edible blooms. The flowers appear in virtually every shade of the rainbow and make wonderful decorations when used on desserts.
Here's a hint: Fall-planted pansies in cold-winter areas will often overwinter and bloom the following spring.
Standout Variety: The Matrix series, which bears large flowers in a wide color range on strong stems.
Peas are perfect to grow on a little fence or tepee to give structure to the cool-season garden. They're pretty, too: The plants often bear variegated foliage and white flowers.
Here's a hint: If you don't have a spot to put up a fence or tepee, look for upright pea varieties that don't need a support to climb on.
Standout Variety: 'Maestro', an extra-sweet variety that's ready for harvest in about 60 days.
Radishes win the prize for being one of the fastest vegetables; it's often ready for harvest less than a month after you plant the seeds. Radishes come in a variety of flesh colors, from white to red to pink and lavender.
Here's a hint: Because of their fast growth and small size, round-root radish varieties are good picks for growing in containers. After you harvest the radishes, grow summer vegetables or flowers in their place.
Standout Variety: 'Easter Egg', which is ready for harvest in about 30 days and comes in shades of red, white, and purple.
This may be the prettiest vegetable you can grow. Swiss chard offers glossy green heart- or arrow-shape leaves carried on colorful purple, pink, red, gold, orange, or white stalks. The leaves taste a bit like spinach.
Here's a hint: Some varieties of Swiss chard are more tolerant of frost than others. Take care not to plant this vegetable too early in spring.
Standout Variety: 'Bright Lights', an award-winning series with brightly colored stalks. They mature in about 60 days.
A so-called "super food" because it's packed with nutrients, spinach is a cinch to grow. Like other leafy greens, plant some in a shaded spot to keep harvests going into the summer months.
Here's a hint: In mild-winter areas, you can sow spinach in late fall for early spring harvests.
Standout Variety: 'Melody', which is heavy bearing and disease resistant. It's ready for harvest in about 45 days.