The Q&A Archives: When To Plant Potatoes And Onions

Question: This is my fifth year of gardening and I'm trying to plan everything out. But, I can't figure when to plant! When the seed packets and instructions say " Plant when the soil can be worked in early spring," what does that mean? Is it possible to wait until I put in the rest of the garden? When should I start planting my garden, because I have heard dates of our last frost ranging from May 15th to the 30th and El Nino isn't helping any? I would especially like to know when I can plant potato and onion sets. I probably live in Zone 6 because I live near Lake Erie, but I could be Zone 5. Thank you for your time.

Answer: If a seed packet says to plant when the soil can be worked in the spring, it is referring to the time after the ground has thawed (for areas in which the ground freezes - as it usually does in zone 6 sans El Nino). This is usually mid-March for your area. Incidentally, I checked, you are in zone 6. Last frost dates for Ohio range from 5/10 in Sandusky to 6/8 in Athens, for a date for Strongsville, call the Cuyahoga Co. Extension Service at ph. 216-397-6000. Plant potatoes several weeks before the last expected frost date for your area, but only if the ground is not wet. If you are having a wet spring, wait a few weeks or the potatoes will rot. Plant the onion sets about 2-3 weeks before the last expected frost date, once again, hold off if the ground is soggy at that time.

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