When considering a vegetable garden, make sure you have a ... Planting plan

By Barb Delisio

OSU Master Gardener

The main difference between spring and summer vegetable plantings is the temperature of the soil and the maturity time of the plant: All cold weather plants must mature before hot weather arrives in June or July.

Early spring vegetables can germinate and grow in soil temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Summer vegetables need at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit soil temperature for the seeds to germinate and plants to grow.

A soil thermometer can be bought at any garden shop. Push the thermometer into the soil two to three inches to check the temperature for seeds to germinate. Soil temperature of 40 degrees 4 to 6 inches deep is needed for transplants to grow. If you don’t have a soil thermometer, you can chart the night temperature for seven to 10 nights.

If the night temperature doesn’t go below freezing it is safe to plant your cold season seeds and/or plants. You can look up the soil temperatures at our OSU weather stations at http://go.osu.edu/weatherstations – the closest ones are in Ashtabula and Wooster.


Another important thing you must consider is the condition of your soil.

The soil cannot be waterlogged. Pick up a handful of soil and squeeze it in your fist. It should not drip water. Hopefully you cleaned up your garden last fall, getting rid of garden debris and solved any drainage issues.

Apply an all purpose garden fertilizer to the soil and rake it in only a few inches, based on your soil test results. You want the fertilizer to be where the roots of the plant will grow.


Remember the soil should be 40 degrees to plant seeds and transplants. Some seeds need to be started ahead of time indoors for transplanting into the garden when the soil reaches 40 degrees.

Check your seed packets to see how long it takes to germinate the seeds and grow them large and strong enough to be transplanted outside. This process usually takes about a month.

Vegetable seeds for planting indoors that are easily transplanted in the garden are broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce and spinach. Peas, beets, celery and chard are more difficult to transplant in the garden. Most root vegetables don’t transplant easily.

If you had more time, the seeds planted indoors around March 1 are beets, Chinese cabbage, Swiss chard, kale, leaf lettuce, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, parsley and spinach.

Don’t use a heat mat under theses seeds because they need the cold temperatures to germinate. These small plants can be put out into the garden around the first week of April.

Now that we are into May, seeds of other cold weather vegetables still can be planted directly in the soil if they will mature in around 60 days. Snow peas, radishes, mustard greens, collards, onion sets and leek seeds can be planted directly into the soil.

Perennial vegetables such as rhubarb (plants) and asparagus (roots) still can be planted in the ground. When digging to put the vegetables in, make sure there is no water sitting in the hole or the roots will rot.

For complete details on planting your vegetable garden this spring and summer, go to: http://go.osu.edu/veggieplans.

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