Spring Gardening in Northeast Indiana

Gardeners living in northeast Indiana look forward to the first warm days of spring with great anticipation. The northeastern part of Indiana experiences all seasons to the fullest, and for those who love gardening, spring can’t come soon enough. By February, many gardeners in northeastern Indiana have stir-crazy feelings of wanting to break out of the house to enjoy fresh air and sunshine.

Plant Hardiness Zones

There are nine plant hardiness zones in the United States. Zone two is the coldest, and zone ten is the warmest. Indiana is considered to be in zones five and six on the USDA plant hardiness zone map. The hardiness zone map indicates the average minimum temperatures of locations across the United States, and the zone determines safe dates for growing plants outdoors.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Five

The Midwest obviously falls in the middle of the USDA plant hardiness zone map. The dates provided help gardeners in specific locations determine when there could still be a killing frost in their area. In my quest to find safe planting dates for zone five, I haven’t found a clear-cut answer. Charts and website information varies greatly. One chart I consulted says zone five can experience a killing frost up until May 31, so to play it safe, cold sensitive plants should be protected when there is danger of a killing frost.

Weeding the Garden

Gardeners generally hate weeding. I personally hate the task of weeding. I use a very effective product called “Preen” to prevent weed growth. After I remove existing weeds, rocks, and debris, I work the soil and break down any large clumps. I then spread Preen across the surface of my entire garden. Preen will not kill existing weeds, but it will help prevent future growth. This weed preventing product is not cheap, but it is well worth the cost because it does a wonderful job of keeping weeds at bay. I usually only apply Preen once or twice during a growing season. After the initial application I rarely have to pull weeds.

The Early Spring Perennial Garden

Asparagus is well suited for a zone five garden. The asparagus in my garden breaks through the soil during the first few warm days of spring. I’m always surprised and delighted to see it. I know for sure spring is just around the corner when the asparagus makes its appearance. Asparagus grows fast, and the tender homegrown shoots are much tastier than the canned variety. Asparagus requires minimal care, and every spring the harvest is more bountiful than the season before.

Strawberries also do quite well in zone five. I have a strawberry patch that has spread greatly since my first strawberry plant took root a few seasons ago. My first strawberry plant was purchased at the store. It is now lost amongst strawberry plants given to me by a friend. Each year the plants stretch their long arms, take root, and provide offspring. Hopefully in a few years my ever growing strawberry patch will provide a harvest large enough for a home-baked strawberry pie. I’m happy right now to have enough strawberries to toss into a bowl of cereal or add color to a fresh fruit salad. I savor each strawberry, and I am always amazed at the perfection and complexity of each and every fruit.

Rhubarb is a good choice for those who like tart and tangy fruit. Rhubarb thrives in zone five. When well-watered, rhubarb takes care of itself, comes up year after year, and provides gardeners with stalks of mouth-watering fruit that is delicious in pies, cakes, and other desserts.

I had an abundant rhubarb patch at my former home, and I regretted having to leave my well-established rhubarb patch when I moved. The good thing is, rhubarb roots don’t take long to grow. I plan on adding rhubarb to my raised bed garden so I can make rhubarb pies and share my harvest with others who love its uniquely sourish flavor.

The Spring Flower Garden

In northeast Indiana, the first flowers available in stores are generally pansies. These flowers are very hardy in zone five temperatures, and thrive in the first fickle days of spring. Pansies come in many colors and varieties and are quite impressive in a zone five spring flower garden.

I have many spring flower bulbs planted in my zone five flower beds. I absolutely love bulb flowers. Bulb flowers are like no other flowers. Their colors are vibrant, unique, and very impressive. Bulb flowers are so perfectly designed, and they almost appear to be fake. Snow drops, tulips, daffodils, and crocuses make beautiful additions to any spring flower garden. There are many varieties and colors, and they can withstand the climate of a zone five garden. Best of all, bulb flowers come back year after year, and when properly cared for, bulb flowers multiply.

When is it Safe to Plant Annual Vegetables?

I generally plant my garden around the middle of May. I’d like to get more of a jump on my garden, but planting tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and eggplant before the middle of May is taking a chance in zone five. If I wait until the recommended date of May 31, considering the time it takes for tomatoes and peppers to develop and ripen, that is really waiting too long. I’ll end up with the bulk of my harvest in early fall, and I would like to harvest during the warm summer months. After planting my garden in mid May, I watch weather forecasts, and I cover my plants if frost is a threat.

The time frame in which a garden should be planted greatly depends on the types of plants chosen and how hardy they are in the cooler temperatures of zone five. Some plants thrive in cooler temperatures, while others can suffer permanent damage. Read seed packets and plant labels to determine when to plant specific varieties.

Leaf lettuce comes in many delicious varieties and thrives in zone five gardens. I have grown leaf lettuce in years past, but it’s not a staple in my garden. My neighbor provides me with enough leaf lettuce to feed my family as well as every rabbit in the area. I usually struggle to use it all before it spoils in the vegetable bin. With the price of all varieties of lettuce constantly on the rise, it’s worthwhile to grow lettuce in your zone five garden. Leaf lettuce is easy to grow and care for, and it’s chock full of vitamins.

A Final Word About Zone Five Spring Gardening

Gardening in a zone five garden is enjoyable and very rewarding. The varying temperatures in northeast Indiana enable gardeners to plant a broad range of vegetables, fruits, plants, and flowers. Gardeners in zone five can benefit greatly from abundant harvests, and most of all, zone five gardeners gain a great sense of accomplishment from those bountiful harvests.

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