May 15 is widely agreed to be the beginning of the prime planting season in the Ohio Valley, according to local gardening experts.
"Generally by May 15 you're fairly safe to plant," Marshall County Co-op garden center manager Marylin Jenkins said.
While Holub Greenhouse owner Fred Holub agreed with this, he added that enterprising growers can feel free to plant certain vegetables even before May because they grow better in the cooler months.
Oglebay Greenhouse employee Elaine Strauch arranges spring plants in expectation for weekend customers on Friday.
"Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, onions. All those kinds of things can be planted right now in April," Holub said.
Jenkins said plants such as the cabbage family, beans and peas are all well-suited for early spring and late summer because they thrive in lower temperatures and take less time to grow than some larger plants such as corn, which take months to mature for harvesting. The amount of time required for growth is one of the most important things to consider when choosing what and when to plant, according to Jenkins.
Gardeners can even start growing warm climate plants in April, according to Jenkins and Holub, if they plant indoors and raise the saplings to be planted outdoors once the temperature rises. The process should occur four to six weeks before intended transplanting, Jenkins said.
One especially useful way to begin growing plants for outdoor planting is to place the seeds into special peat pots, Jenkins said, which can be planted along with the seedling and will not interfere with roots branching out into the soil.
When planting indoors, Holub said seedlings need to be carefully germinated and kept in a well-lit, warm area.
With a diverse climate that encounters extremes from subzero temperatures to sweltering heat and varied temperatures in between, Jenkins said the Ohio Valley will accommodate almost any plant.
For Holub, however, tomatoes are undoubtedly the most popular plant to buy.
"By far, tomatoes are the No. 1 seller," Holub said. "We'll grow over 30,000 tomatoes to sell."
But whether planting crops, a personal vegetable garden or a single potted piece of produce, Holub said local planters must always keep an eye on the weather, especially extended forecasts, and plan their agricultural activities accordingly.
"Our final freeze date is supposedly May 15," Holub said. "But you just never know with Mother Nature.