Planning Your Garden with the U of I Extension

Here's the timeline on when to plant.

Champaign, IL - Starting Seeds Indoors by Ryan Pankau

Although many local garden centers will sell vegetable seedlings much later in spring, there are certain advantage to starting your own seeds indoors during the late winter or early spring.  The primary advantage I have found is that there are is much greater variety of plants available as seeds than you can purchase at garden centers.  So, if you are interested in trying some new and different varieties of your favorite garden vegetables this year, consider starting seeds indoors.

Since all vegetables have specific growth requirements, planting time indoors will vary.  Typical garden crops in our area can require anywhere from 4-12 weeks of growth indoors before planting into your garden.  I typically plan to set plants out sometime after the median frost date for our area, which is around April 15th.  The median is the date that half of all years see their last frost before and half of all year see their last frost after.  In the event that we do have some later frost producing weather events, gardeners should be prepared to protect seedling accordingly using materials like floating row covers or 5 gallon buckets to cover plants overnight.  To play it safe, plan around the date that 9 out of 10 years is frost-free, which is around May 1st.  Depending on which date you choose, calculate back the required number of days to begin planting seeds.

In order to determine specific vegetable crop requirements, a good source is always the seed catalogs that many of receive in great numbers in the mail this time of year.  They always contain specific information about the seeds you are buying and often offer other great growing tips.  Over the years, I have found these seed catalogs to be a wealth of knowledge.   In addition, the University of Illinois Extension has developed a wonderful online reference for growing vegetable crops.  The Illinois Vegetable Garden Guide is available at: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/vegguide/.

 

Here are some general planting recommendations for some of the common vegetable crops in our area:

  • Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, head lettuce – Plant 10 weeks prior to last frost, between Feb 5th and 20th
  • Tomato eggplant, peppers – Plant 7 weeks prior to last frost, between Feb 25th and March 10th.
  • Cucumber, squash, watermelon, cantaloupe – Plant 4 weeks prior to last frost, between March 15th and April 1st.

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