Cam’s Garden Tips: Cold-Hardy Plants

Cam Flaherty here. What can you plant before the frost-free date? Which vegetables don’t Is your garden an interesting mystery (1)mind some cold weather?

Think greens. Think onions. Think peas. When your soil dries out a bit, direct seed salad greens and lettuces after you have added some good organic compost to the bed. Order onion sets and slip those in. Direct seed peas according to the directions on the packet. I prefer sugar snap peas so I can eat the whole sweet pod, and around here it’s traditional to serve the first peas with salmon on the fourth of July, because the salmon used to run just as the peas ripened.

platningzone_mapIn my far northeast corner of Massachusetts, the frost-free date used to be Memorial Day, but it has been creeping earlier, and it can vary. You can find your planting zone at the USDA site. Even within your property, though, you might have warmer or colder micro-climates.

I love that word, micro-climates. Imagine a sheltered  south-facing brick wall or stone foundation. If you create a garden bed directly in front of it, the soil warms earlier and whatever you plant should flourish before anywhere else. You can also create your own lowtunnelsmicroclimates with low tunnels: wire hoops and floating row cover constructed over a garden bed. The row cover lets light and rain through but raises the temperature a few degrees. This picture depicts one at New Harmony Farm in West Newbury, but you can easily make a small version of your own for the home garden.

Readers: Have you had luck with spring gardening? What’s your favorite early crop, either from your own plot or from the farmers’ market?

Edith Maxwell writes the Local Foods mystery series from Kensington Publishing, in which geek-turned-organic farmer Cam Flaherty grows produce even in the winter for members of the Locavore club, but also has to solve more than one case of locally sourced murder.



About Edith Maxwell

Agatha Award winning author Edith Maxwell writes the historical Quaker Midwife Mysteries (Beyond the Page) and short crime fiction. As Maddie Day she writes the Country Store Mysteries series and the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries (both from Kensington Publishing). She lives north of Boston in an antique house with her beau, where she writes, gardens, cooks, and wastes time on Facebook.
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2 Responses to Cam’s Garden Tips: Cold-Hardy Plants

  1. Thanks, Cam (and Edith), great reminder on a morning of 18 degrees on the 16th of April (ridiculous!). My favorite cold-weather crop is spinach, which even beneath this new snow (aargh!!) is growing from a couple of fall-seeded plants in one of the raised beds. Spring’s actual arrival this year, I guess, is a true mystery.

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