Planting time in northern Ohio, time to sow cold-weather crops like potatoes and onions

CLEVELAND - You look out your window at the bare ground. Your garden is waiting.

What are you waiting for? Gardening season has begun across northern Ohio, so get out your shovels and start digging.

Northern Ohio sits in what the US Department of Agriculture calls Hardiness Zone 5. It means that winter temperatures don't often get below -15 degrees F. For the vegetable gardener, it means most garden crops can't be planted until April or May.

April is the perfect time to plant those vegetable crops that don't like the heat of summer. Crops like potatoes can be planted as early as St. Patrick's Day and likewise for peas and onions. April is perfect weather to sow radish seeds.

Your local garden center already has flats of broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. These plants also do best in the cooler weather of spring.

As for the tomatoes and peppers, wait a few more weeks. They need warmer ground to thrive. It's usually safe to plant these out in the garden around May 20. Cucumbers, beans and corn also need the warmer temperatures of May and June to thrive.

So, here's your checklist of vegetables and the optimum time to plant them outside here in Zone 5 northern Ohio:

March to early April: Potatoes, peas, onions.

Mid to late April: Cauliflower, collards, kohlrabi, cabbage, broccoli, radishes, lettuce, beets, spinach.

Late April to early May: Bush beans

Mid to late May: Pole beans, corn, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, lima beans.

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