When to plant container gardens?

by Christy
(South Lyon, Mi)

I am a first time gardener and want to plant some veggies in containers.

Can I plant before the last frost has occurred and, if so, do I need to take the containers indoors each night?

I live in Michigan near Ann Arbor.

ANSWER:

Hi Christy,

Good job on starting your first garden!

Some vegetables, such as peas, lettuce, onions, cabbage and broccoli prefer cool weather, and will tolerate cold weather, including frosty nights and mornings. So now is a good time to plant this type of vegetables.

Other vegetables, such as peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and green beans are tropical plants, and will die or be terribly stunted if they are subjected to any frost.

So, yes you will need to move the containers indoors on frosty nights, or provide covers that will protect any frost-sensitive plants in your garden.

But warm-season vegetables need warm soil and air-temperatures to really start growing, so you probably will want to wait until a couple of weeks past your last expected frost date to plant this type of vegetables outdoors.

Here in Oregon, we can't plant our vegetable gardens outdoors (except for lettuce, peas, onions) until about the end of May or sometimes even early June.

If you have a raised bed, heated bed, or a very sunny sheltered spot for your containers, you can plant outdoors a couple of weeks earlier than usual. But the warm-season vegetable won't grow quickly until the weather and soil have warmed.

Hope this helps...send pictures of your garden!

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Vertical Gardening with Trellises

Which direction do I put trellises in my raised boxes so they don't shade the other vegetables?

I want to incorporate several trellises. I will have 9 raised beds, each 4' X 10', situated north to south.


ANSWER:

The best place for the trellises will be on the north side of your garden beds. The west side will also work if the trellis isn't very tall.

The north side is good, because it will not make shade for your other plants.

The west is a second choice for a short trellis, as you want the morning sun to reach your garden right away. It is OK for most garden vegetables to have some late afternoon shade, if they have had full sun all day.

Another option is to put a trellis in the center of the raised bed, running north to south. But again, I would put this trellis at the north end of the raised bed.

About the only vegetables that will be fairly happy in some shade are lettuce, spinach, other green leafy vegetables.

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