There are some areas of the country where winters are mild, and January marks the beginning of spring planting for a variety of cool weather, slow-growing crops. Others have to wait for that January thaw, and can’t start working the Cool Season Crops until March (or later). We’re getting impatient, though, so let’s start making our plans for planting now… [photo via freedigitalphotos]
What is a Cool Season Crop?
Cool-season crops are vegetables grown at temperatures averaging 15 degrees cooler than those of warm-season crops. Many have edible leaves, roots, flowers or seeds. They can endure short periods of frost. Cool-season crops need to mature during cool weather; otherwise, they can become bitter-tasting or go to seed quickly rather than produce edible parts. What part of the country you live in will dictate when you should plant cool weather crops.
Cool Weather Crops to Plant in March
- Brussels Sprouts
- Celery (mild winter climates)
- Mustard Greens
- Pak Choi (Bok Choy)
- Coriander (Cilantro)
Planting Cool Season Crops
Many of the cool season crops can be planted either in late summer for a fall harvest or early spring for a summer harvest. The spring plant should happen as soon as the ground is workable, usually two to three weeks before the last predictable frost. Transplants are the preferred way to plant many of the leafy vegetables because they establish faster and mature earlier. Root crops can be planted from seed in well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter.
Onions are planted in one of three ways: seeds, sets or transplants. Keep in mind that onions grown from seeds take longer to mature. Potatoes, another annual cool weather crop, come in “tubers.” Tubers are actually potato stem pieces with at least one eye on them. They should be planted immediately after cutting as soon as the ground is workable.
Plant peas as soon as the ground is workable and keep them adequately watered for best results. Always check the seed packaging or the tags on live plants for complete instructions on how deep to plant and how far apart to plant your cool-season crops. These crops are slow-growing, which means they will keep producing for you for months, some even throughout the year, if properly maintained.