Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator
Last week I planted peas and lettuce in my garden. I love peas and can't wait to have some for dinner. Peas and lettuce are both very hardy vegetables, thus the cold and snow last weekend did not impact their growth.
How early you can plant various crops depends upon the hardiness of the vegetables and the date of our last spring frost. Our average frost-free date is April 22 with the actual frost-free date varies two weeks or more in either direction.
Vegetables are classified as very hardy, frost-tolerant, tender, and warm loving, according to their ability to withstand freezes, cold temperatures, or heat. We usually put vegetables into two main groups: cool-season and warm-season.
Very hardy and frost-tolerant vegetables are considered cool-season vegetables. These are for early spring planting, and many are being planted now. Very hardy vegetables withstand freezing temperatures and hard frosts without injury and are usually planted between March 25 and April 10. Very hardy vegetables include onions, peas, potato, turnip, broccoli, and rhubarb.
Frost-tolerant vegetables are a bit less hardy, so they are typically planted from April 10 –25. They can withstand light frosts, but not freezing temperatures. Frost-tolerant vegetables include beet, carrot, radish, cabbage plants, onion plants, and cauliflower.
Warm-season vegetables are for late spring planting and are either tender or warm loving. Tender vegetables are typically planted between April 25 and May 10. They are injured or killed by frost, and their seeds do not germinate well in cold soil. These vegetables include snap beans, sweet corn, squash, and tomato.
Warm-loving vegetables are intolerant of frost and cold and are typically planted between May 10 and June 1. I often wait until Mother's Day to plant these warm-loving vegetables. They include lima beans, cucumber, muskmelon, okra, pumpkin, watermelon, squash, eggplant, and pepper.
My latest YouTube video takes you out to my garden to plant peas and lettuce mix. I also share insights into planting and important details on the seed package. You can find links to my ILRiverHort YouTube channel and other social media sites at web.extension.illinois.edu/fmpt.
Whether you have a large garden or just a couple tomato plants, be sure to share it with the whole family. Some of my fondest childhood memories include feeling the cool soil between bare toes while I helped my dad plant our garden. Gardening provides healthy outdoor exercise in addition to good food.
MEET THE AUTHOR
As horticulture educator, Rhonda Ferree inspired citizens in local communities to grow their own food and improve their home landscapes. She focused on high quality, impactful programs that taught homeowners how to create energy-efficient landscapes using sustainable practices that increase property values and help the environment.
After 30 years with University of Illinois Extension, Rhonda retired in 2018. She continues to share her passion for horticulture related topics as “Retro Rhonda” on social media.
ABOUT THE BLOG
ILRiverHort is a blog that helps people connect to nature and grow.