Know Your Climate
The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location. (https://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/)
Middletown Township is in Hardiness Zone 7A. This means our coldest winter temperatures, on average, are between 0 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
Consider this info when growing perennials (plants that will die back in the fall but grow again in the spring, year after year). You can look for the hardiness zone rating on the label for any perennial plant or perennial seed you purchase. A higher number than 7A means that our harsh winter temperatures will likely prevent the plant from growing again in the spring.
When growing annuals (plants that will grow for one season only - veggies are annuals, with a few exceptions), this info is helpful for determining when to put seeds and plants in the ground.
Many seed packets will give you planting instructions based on your frost date. Couple this with some basic math and you have a great formula for what to plant and when.
- Last frost date: Mid-April is the timeframe given for zone 7, although there have been frosts as late as the first week in May.
- First frost date: Mid-October is the benchmark for first frost, but it has also been as late as the first week in November.
Remember to keep an eye on the weather forecast during these times. If frost is predicted, use a cloth covering to protect your plants overnight. Click HERE for more information on how to protect your plants from frost.
Know Your Plants
Cold Hardiness vs. Heat Tolerance
Certain crops are considered cold hardy (able to withstand frosts or preferring to grow during the cooler temperatures of spring and fall) and some are heat loving (thriving only in the warm weather of late spring/summer/early fall and having no tolerance of frost).
Learn more about which veggie for which season.
Rule of Thumb for Vegetables
- April 15th for cool season crops, second crop planted mid-August
- May 15th for warm season crops
The Middletown Community Garden receives full sun all day long, which is ideal when it comes to growing veggies. Read your seed package or plant label to find out how much sun your plants need!
Some plants need a little more sun protection than others. For tips on how to add some shade to your garden, click HERE.
Young seedlings and transplants will benefit from a steady water supply. Once they're established, they'll be a bit more forgiving but drought will take its toll without your help. On average, most vegetable plants need about once inch of water per week. When you can, water your plants in the morning when evaporation will be slower. Always water the soil, not the plant, since plants take in water best through their roots. Also, a thick mulch of straw will retain moisture while having the added benefit of reducing weeds.
This is the exciting part! Check out this article for the best practices of how to harvest your produce and the right way to store it.