The Green Desk

Early Spring in the Garden

What things need to be done in the garden in early spring? What are some early spring gardening activity ideas for kids

Early spring is a time bursting with possibilities in the garden, even while the air is still cold and the days are just beginning to lengthen. Here are ways to jump start spring in the garden with kids, taking advantage of everything the season has to offer.


Garden Projects

  • Start planning summer vegetable beds. Starting a garden for the first time? See NLI’s Introduction to Children’s Vegetable Gardens Green Desk post for guidance.
  • Order summer vegetable seeds from catalog and online sources.
  • Collect containers for starting seeds, such as yogurt cups, milk jugs, 2-liter bottles.
  • Get information on starting seeds in the spring from this Starting Seeds in the Spring Green Desk post.
  • Plan ahead to order compost, mulch, garden soil, etc. Begin planning and organizing a garden workday, if necessary.
  • Plant shade trees, shrubs, and vines.
  • Plant fruit trees and shrubs. (Download NLI’s Edible Plants list for NC for recommendations on what to plant in North Carolina)
  • Plant potatoes.
  • From seedlings started inside or bought from a local nursery, transplant cold hardy plants such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and leeks into the garden.
  • Sow seeds of radish, carrots, beets, greens, lettuce and peas.
  • Turn compost pile.
  • Prune flowering trees and shrubs: Crepe myrtle, beautyberry, butterfly bush.
  • Cut back ornamental grasses.
  • Take inventory of garden tools to plan for spring and summer gardening.
Newspaper Pots
This is a fun hands-on planting activity that children can create, plant, tend, and take home to their parents.


  • Newspaper (black and white, printed with soy-based ink)
  • Mason Jar/Can
  • Pair of scissors
  • Potting Soil
  • Seeds (larger seeds are easier for little fingers to handle)
  • Masking tape
  • Popsicle sticks for labeling


  1. Cut the newspaper into five to six inch wide strips.
  2. Roll the strip of newspaper around the bottom half of the jar and fold any excess paper towards the bottom of the jar.
  3. Remove the jar from the newspaper pot, flatten out the bottom of the pot, and seal it with masking tape.
  4. Fill the pot with soil.
  5. Plant seeds in pot, water, (a spray bottle works well) and label with a popsicle stick.
  6. Keep soil moist, and wait for seeds to sprout. Plant in the garden when the weather is warm enough.
Jump-start Spring
  1. By forcing branches of spring flowering shrubs and trees to bloom indoors. Place cut stems of Forsythia, Flowering Pear and Cherry, Quince, or Crabapple in a vase inside, and change the water every four days. Children will love bringing springtime indoors!