As the snow is about a foot deep and February is frozen as ever, maybe you’ve made a promise to yourself that you’re going to get out to the garden as soon as you can this spring.
The good news: brassicas are perfect for spring planting in Ohio – because they prefer cooler weather. In fact, cooler temperatures are key to the success of these plants.
What are Brassicas?
Brassicas, otherwise known as cruciferous vegetables, include plants like cabbage, kale, broccoli, or cauliflower.
Crops from this genus are sometimes called cole crops—derived from the Latin caulis, denoting the stem or stalk of a plant.
These are great to grow in cooler months, because they can enjoy lower temperatures, with some of the plants requiring temperatures less than 25 degrees Fahrenheit to grow properly.
When Should You Plant Brassicas in Ohio?
According to The Ohio State University, Brassicas grow “best with average temperatures between 60 and 65 degrees F and no higher than 75 degrees F.
So, for the Dayton, Ohio region, you should get cauliflower and cabbage in the ground in the spring – around late April and Early May. You can begin germinating seeds indoors in late March.
Which Brassicas Can You Plant in Early Spring?
Even though cauliflower and cabbage need to be put in the ground after Ohio’s last frost date, other brassicas, namely, broccoli and kale, can be planted much earlier.
Don’t be afraid to plant broccoli and kale as early as the first week of April. These Brassicas love a chill in the air!
Why Cooler Temperatures When Growing?
When there is warmer weather, it can cause the heads of the plants to grow apart and dry out. With cooler temperatures and more moisture in the ground, this allows for the plants to retain the moisture from things like frost or some snow.
Like most plants, moisture is crucial. It is said that the more frost a brassica goes through, the tastier it will become. This is simply due to the correct formation of the heads of the plants.
Using a Cloche
A cloche is a covering for your garden. This is a way to ensure moisture and even temperatures are kept throughout the growing period for the plants.
Though it is not necessary to do so, having a cloche may be beneficial to growing your Brassicas in order to keep the temperature from fluctuating too much. You want to make sure that the moisture in the soil is consistent in order for a better result.
Other Options for Cool-Weather Planting
Brassicas are not the only plants that you can start early!
Peas, onions, and even garlic can be started around February with great results.
Starting these seeds indoors is the best idea to ensure you’re not setting your garden up for failure. If you start them too early outdoors, the temperature fluctuations, along with frost or pests, can cause the plants to die or not produce the best results.
Finding the right time to plant can be hard to maneuver, but doing the proper research will keep you from making a rookie mistake.