Cold Crops – The first harvest in the garden!

What is a ‘Cold Crop’

Cold crops are vegetables that are able to tolerate cooler weather and perhaps endure short periods of frost.  Cold crops can be planted before the threat of frost has passed, once the soil temperature has reached 4 degrees Celsius or above.  Cold crops are vegetables that are able to tolerate cooler weather and perhaps endure short periods of frost.   A few (peas) produce edible pods.  These plants thrive in temperatures lower than 21 degrees so planting the seeds or transplants at the right time (early spring!) will help to ensure your first harvest!

For best results, they need to be grown during cooler weather, otherwise they can turn bitter tasting or bolt to seed rather than producing edible parts.  Try plant cool season crops in late summer to early fall for a fall harvest

Planting Cold Crops – Tips for Success!

Right now our soil is saturated with rain and melted snow.  In order to raise the temperatures of the soil, cover the garden or containers with plastic which will also help to dry it out.  Black plastic absorbs plenty of heat, although a clear plastic will allow the sun to shine through creating a bit of a greenhouse.  Be sure to weigh down the sheets securely around the perimeter to avoid it from moving on a windy day.

Adding compost on top of the garden is another option.  The dark colour of the compost also absorbs the heat, but the nutrients will also be a welcome addition to the soil.

Once the soil starts to warm up, the weed seeds will also start to germinate – be sure to get a head start on the weeding!

Watch the weather!  Our Ontario spring is always unpredictable so keep an eye on the forecast and expect the unexpected so you can quickly cover your crops.  Keep row covers or old sheets on hand to cover plants and provide necessary warmth and protection in case temperatures dip too low.  Try staggering your planting about a week apart to improve your odds of catching the ideal growing conditions.

Cold Crops can be grown anywhere, from a sheltered spot by the back door to a raised planter, containers or window boxes.  This early harvest is a special treat after our long winter.

The first shipment of cold crops have arrived at the Dufferin Garden Centre.