Summer Growing, What can we still plant this year?
SLIDE: Planting Zones in Ohio:
The USDA hardiness zone 5A is present in only a few small areas of Ohio. The winter temperatures can drop as low as 15 to 20 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. The plants grown in zone 5A must be winter hardy. Your winter temperatures may not be as cold, or you may provide protection for the plants during the winter, which offers you a larger selection of plants to grow in your area.
Most of northern Ohio has annual minimum temperatures of -10 to -15 degrees F and is classified as USDA hardiness zone 5B. The average last frost of the season ranges from March 30 to April 30. The first frost of the season generally comes in October. Plants needing a long growing season, such as watermelon, tomatoes and winter squash, should be started indoors six to eight weeks before the last expected frost date.
USDA hardiness zone 6A covers much of the southern part of Ohio. The winter temperatures can drop to -10 degrees below zero F. Plants sold in nurseries and greenhouses are generally marked with growing requirements and the hardiness zone. A plant marked as hardy from zones 6 through 9 can withstand the lower temperatures of southern Ohio winters but may not do well in the northern part of the state.
Along the Ohio river, which borders southern Ohio, there is a small section which is classified as USDA hardiness zone 6B. The winter temperatures may fall to -5 below zero F during the coldest part of the year. Because of the slightly warmer temperatures, the growing season may be longer in hardiness zone 6B. Fruits and vegetables have a longer time to ripen. As with any planting zone in Ohio, you must determine the micro-climate of your garden area before planting.
The hardiness zones are a guideline for gardeners to use when planning a garden. However, the elements and other outside factors may create a bubble around your growing area. These bubbles are called microclimates. High winds or excessive rainfall may lower the annual average temperature for your growing area. This means that you may live in hardiness zone 6a but have temperatures more in line with zone 5b. Large cities often have higher temperatures than outlying suburbs and therefore the microclimate may be different than what is on the map. To determine your planting zone, track the annual low temperatures. Match the temperature records with the USDA hardiness zone map for planting a successful garden.
By Julie Richards
SLIDE: Planting Schedule:
To help create a planting schedule for Zone 5 and 6
AVERAGE LAST FROST DATE is 30 Mar / 30 Apr
AVERAGE FIRST FROST DATE is 30 Sep / 30 Oct
SLIDE: Popular Summer Vegetables to Grow:
Autumn and Winter Squash
This is the thick-skinned cousin of summer squash. Acorn, butternut, delicata and pumpkins are all autumn/winter squashes. Vining varieties need plenty of space, at least 5 to 10 square feet per hill. Bush varieties can be planted in smaller gardens and only require 3 to 5 feet of room. These squash like full sun and well-drained soil. Allow them to ripen on the vine before harvesting at the end of the growing season before the first frost.
Beans are super easy to grow from seed. Direct sow them in the garden after the soil temperature has warmed to 60 degrees F. Sow seeds every 3 weeks for a continuous harvest. Stop sowing about 8 weeks before the first fall frost date. Bush beans do not require staking. Beans are shallow rooted so be careful when working the soil around the plants.
Corn requires a lot of space to grow and the pollination must be just right. There are few vegetables that are as tasty fresh from the garden so it’s worth the effort. Corn relies on wind to carry pollen from the tassels to the silks on immature ears. To increase the chances of pollination it is best to plant corn in a square of short rows. Space plants about 1 foot apart. Feed at planting with a general organic fertilizer and again when tassels begin to form. Water consistently and regularly. Corn is shallow rooted so water diligently, especially during dry weather.
Cucumbers need full sun, at least an inch of water per week, rich soil and pollinating insects to produce. Pick fruits regularly so that the vines will continue to produce. Bush varieties are suitable for containers, but if you have the space try vining types because they will produce more fruit. Just be sure to support vining cucumbers with a trellis.
Eggplant require lots of sunshine and warm, well-drained soil. Plants should be set out about 3 weeks after the last spring frost. Gardeners in warm climates with long growing seasons can direct sow seeds in the garden at this time. In cool regions seeds should be started indoors 8 – 10 weeks early and planted in containers where the soil temperature is warmer than the ground soil. In spite of their love of heat, once in the garden, eggplants like cool, moist roots. Mulch the ground with straw and keep it moist but not soggy.
Okra loves hot weather, rich soil and full sun. It should be direct sown in the garden several weeks after the last spring frost. In spite of this plant being considered a Southern vegetable, it can be grown in cooler climates. Seeds should be started indoors and moved out into the garden after the summer equinox in late June. Treat them like your mother’s best china when you plant seedlings because the roots are very delicate. Pick pods when they become 3 to 4 inches long. If they are allowed to over mature, the plants will stop producing. The over-ripe, tough pods are great for adding interest to cut flower arrangements.
Wait a week or two after the last frost date to plant peppers. Give them full sun, well-drained soil and consistent moisture. Feed with an organic fertilizer after the plants begin to flower and set fruit. Sweet peppers and bell peppers planted in hot climates may not begin to produce until weather cools in late summer.
Summer Squash and Zucchini
Squash does not transplant well so it is best to direct sow it in the garden after the last frost date or select plants in biodegradable peat pots that can be planted along with the squash. Summer squash prefers nutrient rich, well-drained soil. Prepare your beds before planting with a generous amount of compost or well-rotted manure and an application of an all-purpose fertilizer such as 13-13-13. Gather squash when they are young and tender. Old, large fruits with tough skins should be removed from the vine and thrown away. This will encourage more flowers and fruit.
Tomatoes grown from seed should be started indoors 5 – 6 weeks before the last spring frost. Set the plants out when the soil has warmed and night temperatures stay above 50 degrees F. Tomatoes need 6 to 8 hours of full sun. Get your stakes or trellises in place when you plant. Plant tomatoes deep; bury at least two-thirds of the plant’s stem. This will give the plant strong roots and better fruiting. If the plants start looking worse for wear toward the end of summer, cut back and fertilize for a new flush of growth.
SLIDE: Zone 6 Planting Schedule:
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