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Central and Midwest Region


garden regions 



“The ability to save seed is probably one of the most valuable tools for self-sufficiency that I know of. In fact, it’s a logical next step for anyone who’s honed his or her gardening skills to a high degree – and another way that people can ‘unplug’ themselves from our economic system.” 

The Plowboy Interview: Kent Whealy

Founder, Seed Savers Exchange, January/February 1982

If you're not sure how to start seeds or when to set out transplants, see the Resources section below.

If you have any tips for how to cope with regional conditions where you garden, please share them with other gardeners in your area by posting a comment below. 

To read more about what to plant in other months and regions, visit our What to Plant Now home page.

For planting times specific to your zip code, check out the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Vegetable Garden Planner. 


Top Crops for Central and Midwest Gardening:

Here are the Top Ten crops for Central and Midwest gardens, followed by other recommended crops, as rated in our National Survey of Most Productive Garden Crops. (The criteria for selection include ease of culture, efficient use of garden space and time, ease of storage and desirability at the table.) The recommended crops are sorted by plant family to help you plan rotations so that the same plant families are not grown consecutively in the same area, as much as possible.

Top 10 Crops:

1.   Tomatoes (slicing)
2.   Peppers (sweet)
3.   Tomatoes (cherry)
4.   Onions
5.   Snap beans (bush)
6.   Carrots
7.   Garlic
8.   Tomatoes (paste)
9.   Peas (snow or snap)
10. Lettuce 

Other Highly Recommended Crops:

Cabbage family:  broccoli, cabbage, collards, kale, kohlrabi 

Cucumber family:  cucumberssummer squash, winter squash, pumpkin

Leafy greens:  spinach, mustard (all types), turnip greens, chard, arugula, pac choi, sorrel

Legumes:  snap beans (pole), peas (shell), dry soup beans, Southern peas

Root crops:  potatoes, garlic, turnip, beets, radish, parsnip, shallot, rutabaga

Tomato family:  peppers (hot), tomatillo

Miscellaneous:  asparagus, rhubarb, leeks, scallions, sweet corn, okra 


Sow Indoors   

Sow Outdoors  


Asparagus  XXX    XXX 













Kale  XXX     





Lettuce  XXX     





Onions, bulb  








Scallion (green onion)  




Shallot (seed) XXX     
Spinach  XXX     













Sow Indoors   

Sow Outdoors  


Chives  XXX     

Fennel, leaf  












Sage  XXX     

Savory, summer  




Thyme  XXX     









* To learn more about when to sow seeds (indoors and outdoors) or when to transplant your seedlings to the garden, see: Know When to Plant What: Find Your Average Last Spring Frost Date.

* To learn more about how to start seeds, check out Seed-starting Basics. For a primer on how to transplant seedlings, see Garden Transplanting: Expert Advice.

* Find garden seeds from great mail-order companies with our Plant and Seed Finder.

* Learn more about high-quality seeds and great seed companies in Best Seeds for a Bigger, Better Garden and Best Garden Seed Companies, or through our seed company directory

* You might also try swapping seeds locally.

* For tips on growing everything from apples to zucchini, see our Organic Gardening homepage.


Post a comment below.


Mike Hedin
2/22/2013 11:42:30 AM
Means three hugs in quick succession.

Leslie Baynes
2/21/2013 8:21:03 PM
Is there any significance to the fact that there are three x's?

2/17/2013 12:49:20 AM
These guidelines include starting inside.

Jeanne Reed
2/17/2013 12:31:56 AM
Doesn't the weather have to be above 32 for at least a week so that the ground warms up enough to be able to plant seeds?

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