March and April in Minnesota are unpredictable when it comes to the weather! One thing that can be predictable in Minnesota whether it be in February, March or April, when we get a warm day or two everyone seems ready to venture out into the yard and get a head start on spring yard work and gardening. Hold up!
Yard work shouldn’t be started until the frost is out of the ground. If you walk out on your lawn and it feels mushy or spongy it is too early. Allow time for the ground to dry out before you begin your work. Raking when your lawn is moist is definitely not a good idea and in doing so, you are pulling out the grass seedlings. It is best to stay off your lawn until the frost is completely out and it has dried out.
On average, the last frost in Minnesota falls between May 10 and May 15. It is a good idea to keep this in mind when putting out plants. Of course, when you do get your plants out, keep an eye on the weather reports and plan to cover plants if frost is predicted overnight.
When planting, seeds typically need 45 degree soil temperatures to germinate. It can be a good idea, if you have the time and the space, to begin your seeds indoors. You can find a lot of information on how to do this by searching the web. For your vegetable garden, the growing season in Minnesota can make it impossible to get a good harvest, or any harvest for that matter, from plants that take longer to produce. Things like tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, melons and winter squash will get a head start if you start off outdoors with plants rather than seeds. Consider starting these varieties from seed early, indoors or purchase plants from the local greenhouse. When planting your garden from seed (you can purchase seed from many local retailers, or you can order from a seed catalog or online), you will find that some vegetables grow rapidly. These include lettuce, radishes, spinach, kale and green onions. Consider multiple plantings of these vegetables a few days or a week apart to allow for more opportunities for multiple harvests. You can also use these quick growing plants to mark your rows for other seeds that take longer to get going. For example plant a radish every-so-often in your carrot row so you can see where it is to avoid stepping on it or tilling over it. When planting seed corn, consider planting more than one variety. The backs of the seed packets will tell you how long the seed will take to mature. Select varieties that will stagger your harvest so you can enjoy that corn on-the-cob for as long as possible.
At any rate, right now it is too early to get out and begin yard work. Instead, open your windows, enjoy the fresh air and make a plan for when you can get out.