Tips for Success When Growing Cool-Season Vegetables

Start the season extra early with these frost-tolerant cool-season vegetables.

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If your soil is workable, it's not too early to get started on your vegetable garden. Cool-season veggies can take a bit of frost, and many actually do poorly in warm weather. So don't wait until the last frost to plant them. As soon as you see them in garden centers, it's time to start planting.

Seed-Starting

Planting pregrown seedlings is the quickest way to get to get a jump start on spring veggie gardening. To seed-start, begin by choosing seeds—the seed packet will usually tell you how many weeks prior to the last frost date you should start your seeds.

Recycled containers you can start seeds in include cut-down milk jugs, cardboard egg cartons, yogurt cups, and disposable pans—just remember to punch a drainage hole in each container before planting.

Once your plant-outside date approaches, slowly harden your seedlings by placing them outside, in a protected spot, for a short time (about an hour or so). Every day, increase the length of time you leave them outside.

Time to Plant

Some plants, such as lettuce, radishes, and turnips, germinate and grow so rapidly that it's easy to sow them directly into the ground. When it's time to plant your seedlings, be sure to follow spacing recommendations and plant in a full-sun location.

Cool-season crops are often finished by June. If you pull them out, you may still have time to plant warm season crops, like potatoes, peppers, and beans in their place.

Cool-Friendly Fall Planting

A selection of these crops can be planted in the fall, too. Begin by ridding your current garden situation of any plants that aren't performing well. Start crop seeds as you would when planting them in the spring—most of them will do better in air-conditioned temperatures rather than end-of-summer heat. When time for the outdoors, plant them a little deeper than you would in the spring; the soil is typically moister and cooler an extra inch or two down.

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