Answer: In our area, there are a number of vegetables that can be called “cool season crops”. These are vegetables that prefer the cooler temperatures of spring for seed germination and plant growth. They can tolerate some frost and light freezes of a short duration.
Purdue Extension has a useful publication that includes a vegetable planting calendar for Indiana. (HO-186-W). The calendar is based upon the average frost-free dates for each area. Most of Greene County is in an area where there is a 50 percent chance of temperatures at or below freezing after April 16 – 25. Then, two weeks later the chances drop to 10 percent.
A number of vegetables can be planted as soon as the ground can be prepared and 4 – 6 weeks before the average frost free date. These vegetables include asparagus, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, onions, peas, potatoes, spinach and turnips. Other vegetables that can withstand light frosts and can be planted 2 – 3 weeks before the average frost-free date are beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, swiss chard and radishes.
The local Greene County Master Gardeners are experimenting with cools season crops this year. A donation garden at the 4-H fairgrounds has recently been planted. The vegetables planted are onions, radishes, beets, spinach, kohlrabi, peas, lettuce, cabbage and carrots. In the event that the temperature drops near freezing again, we plan to use floating row covers to protect the new sprouts. If you are near the 4-H fairgrounds, stop by our vegetable garden near the Commercial Building to see how it is working.
HO-186-W, “Indiana Vegetable Planting Calendar”, Michael Dana and Rosie Lerner
HO-203, “Effects of Cold Weather on Horticultural Plants in Indiana”, Larry Caplan
This question was answered by Lila Massa, Greene County Master gardener. Send your garden-related questions directly to the Master Gardeners. Email your question to GardenQuestions45@gmail.com or send by mail to Ask a Greene Gardener c/o Greene County Extension, 4513 SR 54, Bloomfield, IN 47424.