Even though the groundhog declared six more weeks of winter, most gardeners are chomping at the bit to start planting. With Ohio having cold winters and hot summers, it’s imperative to take advantage of spring and fall as much as possible, and preparing for those harsh-weather periods. As an aspiring year-round gardener, here are some of my favorite tips for strategizing for spring planning, and even getting started a bit early.
Learning from last Year for Spring Ohio Gardening
The first step to planning for this year’s garden is to learn from last year. Get out your handy pad and pencil (or word document, or digital notepad) and write down everything you can about last year’s season, including:
- What worked
- What didn’t work
- When the final frost happened (Akron average: May 21)
- What the hottest day was (Akron: October 19th)
- What did you have too much of?
- What did you wish you had more of?
With this information in hand, you can decide what you want to plant and when you want to plant it. You should also take this opportunity to make a list of any equipment you’ll need. Don’t try to remember what you have, go out to your shed or wherever you keep your gardening supplies. Don’t assume you have anything unless you can physically locate it. Garden supplies have a way of disappearing without a trace and not being noticed until the exact moment you need them. Taking inventory is great because it is something to do to maintain progress on your garden, and can be done no matter the weather.
Even though we’re not near the ocean, Ohio has its share of salt problems due to the ice. If your garden plot is anywhere near a road, or even pavement that you’ve used salt to melt ice, you’ll want to flood the ground as soon as your irrigation turns on. This will dilute the salt saturated soil and prevent salt damage from occurring. You can also prevent salt-damage by limiting salt usage near your garden, but if you’re near a road, you can’t really help what trucks and other vehicles kick up around your property.
Once the weather is mild enough for humans, but still too harsh for plants, you can start to assess your garden situation. No matter what the weather was like, I usually end up finding branches, leaves, and even garbage that have floated into my garden during the winter. Take some time to do some litter control before you get the soil ready for sowing.
As it gets closer to spring, you can start some plants indoors, or you can start planting cold-hardy produce outside. Here is a list of vegetables that you can plant 4-6 weeks before the final frost date and can stand up to the Ohio weather conditions:
These can all endure frost, but not necessarily a freeze. Radishes grow super quickly, so if you want to start out small with just one project, they’re your best bet.
To figure out when to plant and how you want to lay out your garden, you can go from experience, or you can get some help from the grand old internet. This Almanac garden planner gives planting dates and spacing suggestions based on the information you input. So you start your plan, and apps like these help you finish it.
Guest post by Mackenzie Kupfer