Plant cool-season vegetables in April in Virginia

Many crops can tolerate colder weather and can be planted in the spring. These plants are called cool-season crops and should be planted so they mature before the summer heat hits.  When warm weather arrives, many of these early crops tend to “bolt” or prematurely run to seed. These crops flourish in temperatures lower than 70 degrees.

Cool-season crops can be planted when the soil and air temperatures are at least 40 degrees. Hardy vegetables tolerate cold temperatures the best. Their seeds will germinate in cool soil, and seedlings can typically survive heavy frost. Plant these seeds or transplants two to three weeks before the date of the average last spring frost.

Semi-hardy vegetables withstand light frost. These crops grow best when the minimum daytime temperature is between 40 and 50 degrees and can be sown as early as two weeks before the average last spring frost.

Spring Garden Plants: Tips for Success

  • Gauge Soil Temperature: The odds of successfully growing cool-season crops increase if you plant them at the right temperatures so check your soil temperature before beginning. When planting seeds or transplants, measure the temperature at the recommended planting depth. Soil thermometers are available at most garden shops, but almost any thermometer will do, as long as it measures temperatures down to freezing.
  • Expect the Unexpected: An unexpected hard freeze can ruin young plants. Keep floating row covers or old sheets on hand to cover plants and provide warmth just in case temperatures dip below cold-tolerance guidelines.
  • Spread Your Bets: Spring weather can be unpredictable. Sow each crop in a couple of batches, staggered about a week apart, to improve your odds of catching ideal growing conditions.
  • Double-check With the Experts: Contact the Henrico County Cooperative Extension office to confirm which cool-season plants thrive in your area.

Credit: Seed Saver’s Exchange