The state of Wisconsin encompasses three different United States Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones, 3 through 5. Within these diverse climates, average annual low temperatures may reach anywhere from minus 40 to minus 10 degrees F. In each of these zones, spring typically begins in mid-April lasting until mid-June. Fall begins anywhere from mid-August to the beginning of September. The shorter growing season makes growing and harvesting a large variety of vegetables challenging, but many types thrive in the Wisconsin climates. Cool-season vegetables, as well as some warm-season types, are successfully harvested in the home garden.
Lettuce and Leafy Greens
As cool-season crops, lettuce and leafy greens are suitable choices for cooler regions such as USDA zones 3 to 5. Harvest lettuce from early spring until late fall, if it is sheltered during light frost or when the temperatures dip below 20 degrees. Romaine, crisphead, iceberg, French and loose-leaf are among the many varieties of leafy greens. Spinach and salad mixes are common choices for window-box vegetable gardens. During spring and fall, use cold frames or cloches to retain warmth and protect the vegetables from frost burn or bolting.
Cabbages are frost-tolerant vegetables often grown in cooler climates. They are among the earliest spring vegetables planted outside, but using a cold frame during spring weather greatly enhances a successful harvest. Cabbages take up a lot of room when fully mature, so allot 30 inches between transplants. Varieties for the home garden include Early Jersey Wakefield, 45-Day Cabbage and Savoy Ace or King.
Broccoli and Cauliflower
Hardy to cooler temperatures, broccoli and cauliflower make good candidates for the Wisconsin home vegetable garden. Harvest these crops throughout the entire growing season. Since they do not like their roots to be disturbed, take extra care when transplanting. Sowing from seed directly into the garden with the aid of a cold frame helps increase chances of success, since roots are not damaged from potential transplanting. Cauliflower and broccoli both need adequate space in the garden. No less than 24 inches in between rows is recommended. Harvest broccoli before flowers open. Cauliflower should be harvested once it reaches usable size.
Additional options for a Wisconsin garden include various root crops such as carrots, potatoes, radishes and turnips. Each of these vegetables are tolerant of cooler temperatures and do well in partial shade. Since they are grown directly in the ground, highly Additional options for a Wisconsin garden include various root crops, such as carrots, potatoes, radishes and turnips. Each of these vegetables tolerates cooler temperatures and do well in partial shade. Since they are grown directly in the ground, highly organic soil supplemented with compost or horse manure is recommended.organic soil supplemented with compost or horse manure is recommended.
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