Cool Season Crops
Cool season crops are those that can tolerate a light frost, but
are intolerant of summer heat. They are usually planted out in
the garden in from late March to mid-April, depending where you
live in Allegheny County. The northern suburbs stay cold longer
than the city and southern areas. Cole crops such as broccoli,
Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, pak choi and
kale should be started indoors six to eight weeks before
transplanting them into the garden. Start them indoors from
mid-February to early March. Head lettuce can be started indoors
three to four weeks before moving the transplants into the
garden. Leaf lettuce is best direct seeded right into the
garden, as are root crops such as carrots and potatoes and
legumes such as peas.
Warm Season Crops
Warm season crops are those that are intolerant of frost. They
are usually planted out in the garden in late May. Tomatoes,
peppers and eggplants should be started indoors six to eight
weeks (nine for peppers due to their long germination time)
before transplanting them into the garden. Start them indoors
from early to mid-April. Vine crops such as cucumbers, squash,
melons and gourds can be started indoors three to four weeks
before transplanting them into the garden. They can also be
direct-seeded into the garden. Other warm season crops that
should be direct-seeded into the garden include beans and corn.
Growing under Artificial Light
Fluorescent lights should run for 16 hours a day. Keep them four
to six inches above the transplants.
Be sure to
harden your transplants off before moving them to the garden
permanently. Your transplants can be damaged by strong sun, wind
and colder temperatures than they are accustomed to if you move
them into the garden abruptly.
Buttercrunch Lettuce seedlings
"Hardening off" is the gradual process of acclimating them to life
outdoors over a seven to ten day period. Start by allowing them
to dry out a little more in between waterings, but never to the
point of wilting, and stop fertilizing them. Find a sheltered
spot where they can be exposed to morning sun, but where they
are protected from the wind and hot afternoon sun. Start on a
mild day, and put them out for two to three hours. Leave them
out an hour or two longer the next day, then an hour or two
longer the next, until they are out all day. Keep an eye on the
weather and move them back indoors if a late frost threatens.
You should also plan to harden off purchased transplants since
many garden centers do not have the space or time to harden them
off before they are sold.
Late-season Garden Vegetable Plants
Storing Seeds from your Garden