When can you plant a garden in indiana
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When can you plant a garden in indiana?
From Purdue Extension,
Plant seeds anytime as early as mid- to late-April.
Keep in mind that this is only for areas where the temperatures regularly get at least 60 degrees.
The best growing time for your garden is just after the last spring frost, but do not plant any seeds if the temperatures will stay at or below 55 degrees for 3 consecutive days or lower. Do not plant before April 1st.
There is no hard and fast rule. Usually a good starting point is that you start a month after the first frost (April or May). You can move it back if you get hot and dry weather later on in the summer and are looking for a short delay, or you can move it back even further in the spring, say May 10.
But it really depends on what you want to grow, what the soil conditions are like and a lot of other factors.
The hard and fast answer is that the soil temperatures must be at or above 55 degrees for 3 consecutive days for plants to germinate and take root. In Indiana, this comes from the Purdue University Center for Soil and Water Conservation.
If temperatures reach these levels at least 3 consecutive days, you can plant. The USDA has also established April 15 as the last day for planting, but in areas where ground temps never reach 55°F, it is common for seeds to germinate after this date. This is due to the increased germination temperatures seeds germinate at, especially for cool-season and drought-resistant crops, but regardless of the last day for planting, the temperatures will stay at or below 55°F for 3 consecutive days or lower.
While the Purdue page offers guidance on this question, there is some uncertainty on what the absolute minimum and maximum temperatures are for germination.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines the range of minimum temperatures for plants to germinate as 40 to 65 degrees, however seeds will germinate at approximately 48°F.
I did a bit of research in an attempt to find absolute minimums for planting, but it is hard to say whether they are correct. They seem plausible, given that the Purdue page notes,
Even though it may seem like the best time to plant seeds is when soil temperatures are already on the rise, you may want to keep planting. Many plants tolerate temperatures around 50 degrees and below.
The Purdue webpage also notes that if a seed has been planted during cold weather in March and is to be planted out in April, it will be difficult to germinate.
If there is any uncertainty as to the planting guidelines and soil temperatures, consider this, from the Purdue webpage.
After the soil temperature has been at or above 55°F for 3 consecutive days, we are going to be more concerned about the plant’s water needs. If we plant when the soil temperature is above 70°F, the plant is going to grow rapidly and we don’t want to overwater it. As the soil temperature drops, we will have to water more frequently and as it gets colder. With most types of plants, we have to water 1 to 3 times a week.
From the previous paragraphs, if we are concerned that the soil temperature is low, we can make sure that we don't overwater until it gets warmer. If we are concerned about overwatering when the soil is above 70°F, then we can make sure we water 1-3 times a week.
In summary, I would make sure to be on the safe side when planting, but if the temperatures are in the upper 80°F for extended periods, I wouldn't worry.
Purdue states that seeds that are planted into the soil will take a few weeks to germinate, so you have plenty of time to water.
Also, if you have any cold frames, you may plant earlier than the dates suggested by Purdue, as it will stay warmer.
I've had some success with planting lettuce seeds into the ground as early as March 15, and some as late as March 20. I tend to favor the latter. Even if you are in an area that does not need the protection of a cold frame, it can take quite a while for seed to sprout, so you might want to just wait for the weather to become consistently warm before planting.
Here is how I have been doing it, I do in my raised bed.
I have been looking for germination. After sowing on 16th Jan I have managed to germinate and there are signs of root sprouts.
Then I sow on 19th Jan I have germinated again, I did a third seeding on 21st Jan. I haven't observed any sprouts from sowing on the 20th Jan but there are plenty on the 21st. I did not notice any sprouts from the sowing on the 16th Jan
I then transplant to my garden on 7th Feb.
So I'm pretty much happy that all my seeds have germinated on the 21st Jan and I have been keeping my soil moist but just right for germination.
Lettuce seeds usually take at least two to three weeks for germination. If you want to get it sown as early as possible, I'd recommend planting seeds in a moist peat pot about 6-8 weeks before your last frost. Put them in a dark, shaded area, and water them daily until they germinate. It would take a little more than three weeks for the seeds to germinate, then it would be time to plant.