YOUR INDIANA SEEDING CALENDAR
The freshest flavors always come from your garden! The summer is the most exciting time for edibles, as delicious foods make their way from plant to plate in record time. Homegrown food is a rising trend and we can definitely see why many people are choosing to grow some of their favorite foods at home. When you’ve gotten to know your plants - from seed, to seedling, to produce - you know you’re eating clean, organic, and local with the best-tasting veggies grown just steps from your kitchen.
WORKING WITH THE SEASONS
We’re lucky here in America to enjoy foods from around the world, but our little slice of garden is a bit more grounded in our Indiana climate. When you’re growing your own food, you have to start working with nature to get what you want. Different fruits and vegetables have different needs, but you can use some simple planning to help your garden cater to as many of their diverse growing conditions as possible. Schedule when and where you plant (with the help of this handy guide) to have a flourishing garden primed to grow your favorites through the whole season.
Following a schedule helps you to plant your seeds at the right time to give them the best chance at success. It also helps you to take advantage of all the weather changes in one growing season. From the cool and damp spring, through the hot summer and into the crisp fall season, following a schedule will keep your garden brimming with edibles as long as possible between winters.
Your garden can be as complex or simple as you want - it’s yours to own and shape around what you want to see more of on your kitchen table this year. From spring through fall, here are all of your opportunities to plant:
EARLY SEASON - SPRING
As soon as the threat of overnight frost is gone, we’re ready to go outside and start enjoying the pleasant weather. While some garden favorites struggle in the cooler spring temperatures, there are lots of options to start early that thrive with a little less heat. These vegetables thrive in moderate temperatures and grow quickly to give your kitchen a jump-start on the fresh food season.
In Indiana, our last frost is usually in late April, so the spring growing season can start in May. Quick vegetables like radishes, leafy greens, carrots, chard, beets, and turnips are perfect for the cool season where they’ll thrive. You can start them as seeds, and you’ll be able to harvest their yields just as the weather warms up. These vegetables are packed with nutrition and are the best way to get some garden flavors started as early in the season as possible.
Other early season veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are good candidates to plant early in May. While they take a bit longer to mature, they are also more resilient in the heat, so they’ll still be thriving by the time you want to harvest them in late June.
Our favorite hardy vegetables don’t complain much about temperature or season, so you can plant and grow them almost whenever. We like starting our onion sets and potatoes in the spring so that we have more time during the year to enjoy them.
SUMMER HEAT LOVERS
Our spring vegetables enjoy the milder weather, but there are lots of plants that are staples in our supermarkets and kitchens that come from warmer locations. Heat-loving plants need some summer heat to grow their best. Most of them will want soils to be about 70°F to thrive, so wait until you’ve had a few warm and sunny days to allow the soil to heat up before planting.
Beans, sweet corn, tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, eggplants, melons, watermelon, squash, and pumpkins love summertime heat, so they shouldn’t be planted until late May or early June. Many of these can be started from seed or from a starter, or given a head start on the season by being seeded indoors up to six weeks before transplanting. Keep an eye on the maturity time on your selected plant types so that you know that you’re investing your time in something that you’ll be able to harvest and enjoy before the fall frost. We have a generous 173 growing days in our season from frost to frost here in Indiana, so choose plants that fit comfortably in that time frame.
Late summer is the ideal time to start harvesting your tree and bush fruits, like apples, grapes, cherries, blueberries, and raspberries. Their roots are already established and they’ll have used the whole spring and summer season to grow and ripen delicious fruit to enjoy - try not to eat all of them as you pick!
LATE SEASON - FALL
Most of us think about fall as the time to be harvesting our produce and enjoying it, but it’s an opportunity to sneak in a last laugh before the winter weather sets in. Some of your cold-loving and quick-growing favorites from the early spring can be planted for a second round in the fall for another late harvest. Quick growing leafy greens, carrots, and radishes can be planted in late August when the weather begins to cool just a little, so you can squeeze every bit of flavor out of your garden in one season.
CHEATING THE WEATHER
While the seasons do a lot to limit or allow us to plant our favorites, there are ways to cheat the system. A well-lit windowsill in your comfortable temperature-controlled home is enough to get some of your favorite heat lovers started early so that they can be transplanted into warm soil when the weather improves.
Window sills can also be more permanent home for some of our more flavorful kitchen favorites. Grow some leafy herbs inside all year, and you’ll not only have a refreshing splash of green to perk up your home, but you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of garden-fresh flavor in your home-cooked dishes, even in the depths of winter.
It can be hard to predict the weather, and each year it seems like things are getting more and more tricky to forecast. Getting your plants in the ground at the right time is certainly a good way to set your edible garden up for success, but it’s reassuring to know that it isn’t an exact science. This planting guide gives you an outline to get your own garden going, but you can make yours flexible to fit the ebbs and flows of the weather. Working with Mother Nature, your garden is all you need to grow fabulous fresh food for your family.