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Spring vegetables for Chicago gardens.

jalapeno-seedlingsI recently started contemplating what I want to grow in the garden this year and figured I’d blog about it and share any ideas/insight with you novice Chicago gardeners out there.

This should be an interesting year for produce because of the California drought and water shortage.  Vegetable prices will inevitability be higher and inventory will be scarcer.   So why not grow your own and know exactly where your food is coming from.  Plus, you will have a great time doing it.

February is a good time to start sowing seeds indoors for later transplant to your garden.   Most summer vegetables can be sown indoors to maximize your yield potential come harvest time.   If done correctly you can be harvesting long before everyone else and enjoying an abundance of vegetables.   The cool season vegetables include broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, endive, lettuces, kale along with many more.   They can be started indoors now and then transplanted to the garden as soon as the soil can be worked which is typically mid to late march.  These vegetables will usually start to decline with the hot July heat and can be re-sown in late July for a fall harvest.    The warm season vegetables can be started indoors also.  They include cauliflower, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes.  These warm season vegetables can’t be planted for around 8 weeks, which is usually towards the end of May when there isn’t any threat of frost.  This can give you a good sized healthy plant that is bigger then  your options at local garden centers thus ensuring you a sooner harvest and longer harvest duration.

Once we get into March you can start thinking about other vegetables that can be sown directly into the ground.   These include arugula, mache, mustard, peas, radishes, spinach, beets, carrots along with many others.  They can be planted as soon as the soil can be worked. March is also a good time to start cucumbers and melons indoors for transplant later.

In zone 5, after the first week of April passes, beans, squash and corn can be planted outside. They are planted directly in the garden and 1 week before the last frost is expected. After the seed germinates and presses through the soil, be sure to cover the delicate plant if frost occurs. Beans take several months to mature and can be planted in successive planting up until 3 months prior to the first fall frost. In zone 5, the first expected frost date is October 15th. So all beans should be planted by July 15th to ensure they have time to reach maturity before it gets cold.

Hope this info helps.  Now you can’t complain about having nothing to do on the weekend.