We are crossing the last frost date threshold here in Central Kentucky (zone 6b). Thank goodness! Early spring is always a little frustrating when it comes to growing your own food. We tend to have extended periods of warm summer-like weather only to plunge suddenly back into winter. We have a lot of up and down temperatures during our spring season and it is never a good idea to ignore the safe planting dates.
So I will say it one more time this year with the hope that it will be remembered next spring - do not plant out any warm season crops until after Derby Day! (You have no idea how many times I have repeated this mantra in the past month, even after the late April snow.) Derby was early this year (May 1st) but looking at the extended forecast can help determine whether it’s safe or not. (checking weather app one more time) We should be good to go at this point. Yay!
We can start transplanting out and direct seeding all our warm season crops! But don’t worry if you’re not quite ready. Here in Central Kentucky we have a good 6-8 week window when we can plant in time to harvest before that dreaded first frost. You may not have ripe tomatoes by the 4th of July but you’ll certainly have tomatoes by Labor Day.
Typical warm-weather backyard garden crops include tomatoes (of course!), peppers, eggplants, beans, cucumbers, squashes, and melons. The list of edibles to possibly grow is long but I find these veggies to be popular beginner crops. All of these can be planted in in-ground beds, raised beds, containers, and even existing landscaped areas of your yard.
You do not have to have a designated garden area in your yard to grow your own food. I can not emphasize this enough. All that is absolutely required is desire. The rest? Just details that are incredibly flexible. You can grow food in very small spaces and even in containers in sunny windows.
As a backyard farmer it is my job to figure out the details so that you can grow your own food. To be honest, it is a lot of trial and error. The advantage I have is that I have been at this a long time so my well of successes (and failures) is pretty deep. Age and experience come in handy sometimes.
I will close by sharing the most important step in growing a summer garden: <drumroll> getting started! Just do it! Grow something! It doesn’t matter what or how. It is the experience of convening with nature that’s so very valuable. And regardless of your outcome, you will learn and you will benefit from the experience. I promise! If you do it barefoot? Bonus points!