Top 10 Spring Vegetables

Ahh…Spring. The days are getting longer (or rather, the amount of daylight we get is getting longer), the temperatures are rising (depending on your geographical location) and all of a sudden we’re getting a little tired of the winter vegetables we’ve been subsisting on for the past 5 months or so.

Enter spring vegetables, in all their glory. Now, before we begin, a disclaimer: Since the weather in the spring can be so unpredictable – with some regions still up to their eyeballs in snow and others enjoying significantly warmer weather – we’ve included a link to a website that can tell you, based on the state that you live in, which fruits and vegetables are reaching their peak.

And so to our top spring season vegetables for 2008…


Bringing to the table a high content of fiber, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus and other essential minerals, there isn’t much artichokes can’t do. Specifically, they have been associated with promoting liver health, particularly among folks who drink alcohol heavily or otherwise have compromised liver function, as well as staving off arteriosclerosis, gout, and migraine headaches. In addition, artichokes are thought to improve gall secretions, lower blood sugar, and improve digestion. Not bad, ey?


Although asparagus’s peak season is considered to run from April to May, in warmer climes, the green spears can appear as early as February. In addition to being easy to prepare – steamed, grilled, oven roasted… the choice is yours! – asparagus packs a whopping 114% of recommended daily allowance (RDA) per 1 cup serving of vitamin K, which is important for bone health, and nearly 66% RDA of folate, which helps maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.


Due to the wonders of transport, we can now enjoy avocados virtually year round, even though they’re typically considered a spring fruit on the West Coast and a fall fruit in Florida. (Yes, we know. Not technically a vegetable.) Often times when we discuss avocados, we get caught up in discussing its “good fats.” Specifically, we’re referring here to its oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that is thought to increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL). However, avocado is also considered an excellent source of folate, providing 23% per 1 cup serving, as well as health-promoting carotenoids – whose absorption is aided by the oleic acid – including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lutein. In addition, a study in October 2007 edition of Seminars in Cancer Biology suggested that the phytonutrients in Haas avocados may stave off oral cancer – which has a 50% mortality rate – by increasing the amount of free radicals within pre-cancerous and cancerous human oral cell lines, leading to their death but causing no harm to surrounding normal cells.


Looks can be deceiving when it comes to celeriac, which despite its knobbled and gnarled appearance, is actually one attractive addition to your diet! Stock up on this vegetable in the spring months for its high levels of vitamin C, vitamin K, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium and manganese, which are important for blood health. In addition to these nutrients, celeriac is an excellent source of dietary fiber, which is important for digestive health and can help you feel satiated for longer.


Unless you live in a relatively mild climate, fennel is one vegetable that is only offered in the spring. Revered for its unique licorice-like flavoring, fennel contains a unique blend of phytonutrients – including the flavonoids rutin, quercitin, and various kaempferol glycosides – that make it a powerful antioxidant. Specifically, these compounds are thought to reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of cancer, and when combined with fiber, as is the case in fennel, can help eliminate potentially carcinogenic toxins from the colon to prevent colon cancer. Try it with avocado in a delicious salad.

Fiddlehead Ferns:

Not only good for adding a touch of whimsy to floral arrangements, fiddlehead ferns—or fiddlehead greens as they are sometimes called – actually taste quite similar to asparagus and offer many of the same health benefits. Specifically, the ferns are an excellent source of vitamin A, which is important for eye health, and a good source of vitamin C, making them a popular choice for warding off scurvy back in the day! In addition, the ferns provide some fiber and are also rich in iron, potassium, niacin, riboflavin, magnesium and phosphorous.

Mustard Greens:

Great for infusing a little flavor into your salad or as a side dish all on their lonesome, mustard greens – whose season runs through the end of April – are perhaps most prized for their high vitamin K, A and C content. Like the three musketeers, these vitamins team up to fight free radicals and protect the body against the types of cell damage that could leave it susceptible to health conditions. In addition, mustard greens contain numerous nutrients that can contribute to a healthy cardiovascular system, including beta-carotene, vitamin B6, folic acid and magnesium. For the ladies, mustard greens also provide calcium to boost bone strength and may also help temper some symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes and sleep interruptions.


Although available year-round in the supermarket, we include radishes simply because they won’t be around when the temperature soars and we think you need to get ‘em while the getting’s good! What’s so great about radishes? Well, the little red and white bulbs pack a hefty dose of vitamin C, which serves as both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and also serves as an excellent source of potassium, which is important for kidney and blood health.

Vidalia Onions:

Although other onion varieties are available year round, it’s worth stocking up on sweet Vidalia onions during their short spring season. These onions – which make a great addition to salads, dressings and egg dishes – contain more than one hundred sulfur-containing compounds which, in addition to being the cause of the teary eyes, are also thought to reduce the symptoms of asthma and other respiratory ailments. In addition, onions – which log only about 30 calories per 1 cup serving – provide a health dose of flavonoids, which are thought to offer a protective benefit against several forms of cancer, particularly those affecting the breast. Unlike traditional onions, Vidalia onion’s high water content makes them a little bit trickier to store. We recommend wrapping them first in a paper towel and then storing them in the crisper drawer of your fridge for best results.


Back in the day watercress – or scurvy grass as it was also once called – was used to treat just about anything: coughs, colds, tuberculosis, asthma, emphysema, stress, pain, arthritis, diabetes, anemia, constipation, failing eyesight, cancer, heart conditions, eczema, scabies, indigestion, alcoholism, intestinal parasites and kidney and gall stones and was even used as a deodorant for some time! And perhaps some of it holds true. We now know that watercress is an excellent source of beta-carotene, vitamins A, B1 and B6, C, E and K and also contains abundant iodine, iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc. In addition, it also contains a flavonoid called quercetin that is thought to reduce inflammation and serve as a natural anti-histamine.

Share your favorite spring veggies in the comment boards!

.kaishin., itsjustanalias, Voxphoto, life’s a gasp, obscene_pickle, libraryman, pictoscribe, methoxyroxy, Julep67, svacher Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

Top 10 Vegetables for the Winter Season

Slashfood: The End of Winter is Near

Veggie Chic: Baby Artichokes

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32 thoughts on “Top 10 Spring Vegetables”

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  1. Yeah, on the weekend I ate watercress, mustard greens, radishes and artichokes. last night it was another artichoke. Today my menus include avocado and asparagus. How am I doing??

    Oh and I love those fiddlehead ferns and fennel but didn’t see any last week at the greenmarket (either Weds or Fri!!). Will check again tomorrow.

    And I always thought celeriac to be more of a winter veggie!

  2. I much prefer the name “scurvy grass” to watercress. I’m headed to the wharf to grab some scurvy grass for my bubonic salad. It’s great for consumption!

  3. Aaaahhhhh, artichokes, my favorite vegetable. My son’s too. Great fun for kids and adults to peel leaves, dip into easy homemade mayo with lemon, mustard, herbes de Provence and chopped capers, then scrape.

    I overdid the artichokes when we moved from the Right Coast to the Left Coast, though, and now my husband is sick of them. More for me.

    I often cut them in half, steam, and keep extras in the fridge a few days for quick veg additions to meals and my son’s school lunch box.

    We even have artichokes in our garden, because the plant is lovely all winter (like a huge silvery green fern) and practically maintenance free until it bolts in the summer. We have eaten artichokes from our garden, but with the strong So Cal climate sun, the buds sometimes develop too fast, so I let just them flower. What a beautiful purple-blue thistle!

  4. For people who can’t find wild produce including fiddlehead ferns, watercress, miner’s lettuce and stinging nettles – sells it online (when in season) and ships directly from the source.

  5. Speaking of new foods – have any of you heard of eating chia seeds? Yeah, like the kind you use to grow hair on your chia pet. I’ve heard that they are the best plant source of omega-3’s and don’t have the absorption problems of flax. Anyone know if this is true?

    1. I’ve read about that also, from what I know it’s true and it’s the latest powerhouse of omega-3″s and are suppose to have 2x’s the protein of other seeds and grains.

  6. I’ve heard about chia seeds, also purslane, being high in precursors for omega 3. But I still prefer animal sources, as the omega 3 is already formed. Not everyone makes the conversion well. Same for Vitamin A and carotenes. If I like the omega-3 precursor plants and they fit well in my diet in other ways, great, I eat them. But I think animal sources are more reliable for omega-3.

  7. I actually use chia, milk thistle, flax and hemp seeds pretty regularly along with fenugreek. I just vary the mixture and add it to whatever I cooked (upon completion). Gives me some good fats and helps the system run smoothly!!

  8. Shhh, I don’t want to spoil the fun, but Celeriac is an autumn veggie. Don’t tell anyone.

  9. I think “seasonal” varies depending on climate. When I hear Anna talking about what’s in her CSA box in California in January (strawberries!), I know I won’t get those things until June, when it’s no doubt way to warm in Cali to grow strawberries. Of course, the fact that California produce is shipped everywhere in the country probably blurs the seasonality, so that might account for the spring/fall disagreement.

    Monica – I use celeriac much the way you might use potatoes – boiled and mashed with butter, or shredded and made into an un-potato pancake. Some people find the celery taste a little too strong by itself, so you might mix it with other root veggies like turnips or rutabagas. I, however, love it on its own.

  10. Migraineur is right about “seasonal” in CA. In San Diego county, many farms experience a 50 week growing season, though of course not everything grows that long, due to microclimates, etc. CSAs and Farmer’s Markets are all year here. Right now kumquats are in season and I’m loving it!

    I have learned to be very careful about buying gardening books & magazines since moving to CA 12 years ago from the Right Coast. Publications meant for the entire country often are completely upside down (or worse, useless) for So Cal in terms of seasons and plant varieties. I now stick to Western, Southwest, California, or So Cal specific references for the most part.

    Fruit trees in particular are tricky because we need varieties that have less “chill” requirement (I miss Northeastern apples). Winter and early spring is when we get the rain (with luck), the natural landscape changes from lion-tan to bright green, and wildflowers burst into bloom. Nearly anything that doesn’t need heat or isn’t super cold sensitive grows is at its glory from late December to April during the ahem, “rainy season”.

    On our way to the SD Wild Animal Park, we took a drive east through the Oct 2007 burn areas last weekend – it’s spectacular with bright gold California poppies and some beautiful blue flower all over the hills. My son found wild lupine blooming at the top of our slope. Winter and early spring is my favorite time in So Cal.

  11. I live in Canada and am of European ancestry. Except for the fact that celeriac can be stored, it’s no more a spring vegetable than rutabaga or turnip or kholrabi or beets.

    Sure, southern U.S.A. farms grow stuff all year round. But it doesn’t make the produce that is brought here by semis ‘spring’ veggies. I’m sure there’s lots of winter veggies in Australia that couldn’t possibly be grown here under the ice and snow….:(

  12. That’s why participating in a CSA or other local food source is great – it reminds up what is “truly” seasonal in our local area. It’s easy to lose track of seasonality in grocery stores, with semis and airplanes hauling in food from all over. Even if you can’t find a source dedicated to local foods, you can check the local farm bureau online and they’ll likely have some information about what is grown when.

  13. I work with Dr. Phuli Cohan of Newton, MA, and she’s validated the dangers of bone density drugs. After an argument with my doctor, I quite Fosamax. Here’s Dr. Cohan’s blog posting from Sherry Alpert

    Bone Density Drugs Can Kill Your Bones—Canadian Study Confirms
    Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

    Women have been telling me that when they discuss their concerns about the dangers of bone death (my last blog) from using bone loss drugs (Bisphosphonate), they were told, “Oh that’s just in patients with cancer” or “That’s just in women using high doses of medications intravenously.”

    This is not so, and maybe you need to educate your doctor if you are taking a bone loss drug such as Fosamax, Actonel, or Boniva. These drugs do make your bones denser (by preventing bone breakdown) but they DON’T MAKE BONES STRONGER. In fact, it appears that bones may become more brittle and prone to collapse or fracture. How is this possible you may ask? Bone breakdown is a normal part of bone health. Without bone breakdown, new bone is not formed, and only new bone is strong and resilient. Sure your test looks better but your bones are no stronger.

    Show your doctor the article published in the January 15, 2008 issue of the Journal of Rheumatology (reference below). This study was done in Canada at the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute. They looked at NORMAL men and women, who had used ORAL medications for an average of only 2 years. There was a 300% increased risk of bone death in the group who took these medications compared with the group who didn’t use these drugs.

    Bone death leads to permanent bone collapse. Normally this condition is rare, but because these drugs are so commonly prescribed, (there were over 55 million prescriptions for these medications in the U.S. in 2004), these findings are very significant. Don’t be cajoled by your well-meaning doctor.

    Many of you are taking these drugs, which have barely been tested in the human race (they have only been around since 1995). These medications will stay in your system for decades. There have been reports of bone death of the jaw for many years, now it showing up in hips, and feet. My mother has a friend who lost the use of her hip from “being on Fosamax too long”.

    Let’s not be victims of our own laziness. Stop looking for the “one pill solution” to complex problems. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Remember DES? It was the one pill solution to miscarriage. It was shown to be carcinogenic 25 years before it was removed from the market, and now the children of women who used it are paying the price.

    Provera was part of the one pill solution to menopause. It is still causing an increase in breast cancer years after women have stopped using it (and it continues to tarnish the reputation of natural progesterone, which has NEVER been linked to breast cancer).

    So, now we have Fosamax and its relatives, destroying the very bones you are trying to protect. Start thinking about why your bones are thinning and how to grow new bones naturally. Stop looking and trusting in a pharmaceutical, potentially dangerous, cure.

    Check out my topic on bone health. I write more extensively about bones and hormones in my book, The Natural Hormone Makeover.

    Etmiman, M, Aminzadeh,K., Matthew, J., et al. Use Of Oral Bisphosphonates and The Risk Of Aseptic Necrosis: A Nested Case-Control Study, J Rheumatology. 2008. 35: 1-5.

  14. Right now in season here (So Cal with a CSA) – I’ve been eating a lot of greens … kale, cabbage, arugula, lettuce, bok choy. We’re also getting radishes, fennel, broccoli, cauliflower, and “spicy salad mix”. I hear that mustard greens are coming this week.

  15. In my family we have a tradition of eating watercress with a glass of dark red wine. Try it!I

    I promise you will be amazed at the result.

  16. Celery root is available all year and peaks in the Winter, not spring. I have been using and loving it for years.