Ohio usually sees its last spring frost in mid-May, keeping that in mind you can plant your garden seeds when the time is right. You’ll want to plant cool season crops in the ground first and make sure the time for frost has passed before planting warm season crops. Get out your gardening tools and clean up your work station, it’s time to plant seeds that can be transplanted in the spring.
Cool season crops include the lettuce family, broccoli, cabbage and they can take light frost weather and if these crops are sewn 2-3 weeks before the last spring frost they can survive it. As an added bonus some crops such as spinach and peas are cold-hardy they can be planted as soon as you can turn the soil. This is a great way to get started on your spring gardening by managing your crops so you can give the most attention to those that can survive the cold.
How to find your average last frost date
You can find your average last frost date by researching dates for recent years online. There are frost charts that forecast probable dates based on the climate history for your area when it gets 32 degrees or colder. One such chart can be found at the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Ohio’s historical last frost date for Cincinnati is April 13th and first winter frost is October 23.
When to plant vegetables
To have a successful vegetable garden you have to know when to plant vegetables and there is no need to do much research when there are dozens of places available online to assist you in the process.
Before planting season take the time to list the vegetables you will be starting from seeds indoors and those you will be planting outdoors. Some plants do not transplant well, so you’ll need to plant them outside when the time is right. What you plan on growing will decide the timeline you’ll need for your vegetable planning.
At Vegetable Garden Life they give you important gardening information and a chart for vegetables and their planting guide. Folks at VGL know it is important to learn when to plant vegetables because some vegetables thrive in spring and fall, while others produce better during midsummer. If you spend the time to understand when to plant your vegetable garden, you can ensure that you will have vegetables maturing throughout the summer.
There are four main vegetable garden planting periods according to the experts:
- Early spring – as soon as the ground can be worked (soil temp. of ~5°C or 40°F)
- Midspring – approximately 2 weeks before the last expected frost date
- Early summer – when the trending weather provides warm sun and soil
- Midsummer to Fall – late June until two and half months before the first killing frost of Fall
3 ways to protect your crops in early spring
In January of last year, John from Growing Your Greens shows hands on three different ways he is protecting plants in his vegetable garden against frost and the cold winter weather. Of course, John lives in California where his planting season last longer than in Ohio, but this same concept can be used in spring when there is still danger of frost affecting your garden.
In this episode, John shares three simple ways that will allow you to continue to grow some of your summer crops during the early spring in Ohio to keep the genetics alive that will enable you to have a jump on the following season.
Whoever thought of using Christmas tree lights to heat the plant area, well this is one method John uses to heat the surround area when a light frost threatens. When the weather can threaten a plant that stays in the ground, John digs a large root ball and places the plant in a bucket of soil and takes it somewhere warmer which is something you don’t want to have to do a lot. Sometimes you can just cover your plant and it will protect it where it stands.
After watching this episode, you will have some tools in your arsenal to keep the cold temperatures at bay so you can grow food earlier in your climate.
What others say they do to protect their plants?
- “I’ve used a couple of old wire coat hangers straightened & bent into a tepee and garbage bags to cover plants. I didn’t have to buy anything, already had them. Recycling the old Christmas lights is a good idea. And, before anyone get crazy about the “inefficient” incandescent light bulb, the line of thought has shifted back to them because of how toxic the CFL’s have turned out to be. What a scam they turned out to be. We get light & heat from the cheap incandescent. For many, that’s a good thing,” Jim S.
- “Good Info John. I put burlap over a few of my plants. It worked ok but I still lost some leaves,” Chris Alexander
- “We got hit by the frost and re-used my tomato cages over my young plants with clear plastic garbage bags over the top as a frost fort. It worked pretty well but in only got to the mid to high 20’s. It’s a great way to re-use something that you may already have,” Tonja F.
List of gardening how-to’s
- How to prep the soil for vegetable gardens
- How to start a square foot garden
- How to start your first garden
- How to get started container gardening
- How to do companion planting in the garden
- How to create a compact vegetable garden
- How to make a straw/hay bale garden
- How to make your own potting soil mix
- How to start your online vegetable garden planner
- How to grow a vertical garden
- How to grow an indoor herb garden