As we start to see more and more farmers out in the field, the excitement of the growing season ahead grows more and more. It is not only planting season for the corn and soybean farmers, but planting season for gardening is right around the corner. How early you can plant depends on the hardiness of the vegetables you are planting and the exact climate of your area. The University of Illinois provides information on what their recommendations for the planting period of vegetables are for Central Illinois. They choose their recommendation by the average last 32℉ freeze of the winter and the hardiness of each vegetable. The following is the information that they provide for many common vegetables.
Asparagus; Hardy; March 15th - April 15th
Bean, bush, lima; Very Tender; May 10th - June 15th
Broccoli; Half-hardy; April 10th - July 15th
Carrot; Half-hardy; April 10th - July 15th
Cauliflower; Half-hardy; July 10th - 20th
Cucumber; Very Tender; May 20th - June 15th
Lettuce, leaf; Half-hardy; March 25th - May 15th
Peas; Half-hardy; April 10th - May 1st
Pepper; Very Tender; May 10th - June 1st
Potato; Half-hardy; April 1st - 15th
Pumpkin; Very Tender; May 20th - June 10th
Radish (spring); Half-hardy; April 5th - June 1st
Rhubarb; Hardy; March 25th - May 15th
Spinach; Hardy; March 25th - April 15th
Sweet Potato; Very Tender; May 10th - June 1st
Tomato; Very Tender; May 10th - June 1st
Planting seeds is a fairly simple process! After choosing what seeds you want, most information for planting will be listed on the package of seeds. In general, you want to mark out straight rows in your garden for planting. This will make taking care of your garden throughout the growing season easier. Straight rows make cultivation, insect control, and harvesting easier. When planting the seeds into the ground, one simple method is to mark your row with a string between two stakes in the ground at the end of the rows. Create a small trench in the ground that is as deep as the suggested plant depth for the seeds you are using. Space seeds in the ground according to the spacing stated on the seed package. If there is no planting depth listed, a good rule of thumb is to plant at a depth about four times the diameter of the seed. After placing the seeds at the proper depth, make sure that the seeds are covered back up. After the seeds have emerged, thin down the amount according to what the seed package says.
Some vegetables are usually planted through transplant. Some common vegetables to put into the garden via transplant are broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, peppers, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes. You can either buy plugs to use or start your own seeds indoors. When you go to transplant, it is good to transplant on a cloudy day or in the evening. Make sure to water plants about an hour before transplanting. You can untangle root clusters at the bottom of the plug before transplants to help the roots a bit, this is not critical however. It can help your transplanted plants to use some fertilizer around the freshly planted plant. Be sure to research what fertilizer mix would be best for your plant choices. Finally, be sure to protect the plants from excessive wind, heat, or cold if needed. A homemade or store bought plant protector can be used to help protect your newly transplanted plants.
There are many methods of starting a garden, and the information above is what the University of Illinois has published as possible methods. Regardless of your choice of method, as long as you are keeping a good watch for what your plants need, your garden is likely to be successful.