Indiana has an ideal climate for growing many vegetables. The southern areas of the state are in USDA zone 6, while the central and northern parts are zone 5. The warm months last long enough to grow vegetable garden staples, such as tomatoes and corn. Some things to watch for when planting your Indiana vegetable garden are sudden weather changes, excessive spring rains and summer droughts. Late frosts, heavy rains and long dry spells have dashed many Indiana gardeners' hopes for a large harvest, damaging and washing away early-planted seeds and plants.
Pick a site that receives at least six hours of sun a day. Afternoon shade benefits most vegetable gardens because of the high heat and humidity of Indiana summers. A slightly elevated site warms more quickly in the spring and has better drainage. Avoid low-lying areas and the north side of structures.
Amend the soil the fall before planting, if possible, or very early in the spring. Till in at least 3 inches of compost, and cover this with a layer of leaves or straw. You may want to add more compost if you have clay soil.
Make a plan for the vegetable garden. Decide what you want to grow and look up the spacing needs for those plants. Sketch a plan so that you know how many plants you need. Create a simple graph with 1-inch squares. Each inch represents a foot of garden space. Remember to place taller vegetables on the north side of the bed so that they do not shade the smaller plants.
Start seeds indoors in March for vegetables that need extra time to grow, like tomatoes. You could instead buy starter plants later if you do not want to grow plants from seeds. Many Indiana nurseries carry vegetable plants in early May.
Watch local weather for estimated last frost dates. The last frost usually occurs around the first week of May for most of Indiana. Plant most vegetables after the last frost. You can plant some, such as lettuce, before the frost.
Use your plan to plant the vegetables. Pick an overcast, cool day---common in Indiana's spring---to plant to prevent too much shock to the vegetables. Use a trowel to dig a hole about twice the size of the plant's pot. For plants like tomatoes, plant the stem up to the first leaves.
Sow any seeds that can be direct sown in Indiana. For example, carrots, beans, peas, cucumbers, corn and melons all grow well from seed. Most seed packets have directions for spacing and depth to guide you. As a rule, plant the seeds to a depth twice their size. Break up any clumps of soil so that the sprouts can push through more easily.
Water the new vegetable garden thoroughly. The garden needs at least an inch of rain a week, so supplement natural water sources during the dry summer months. Seeds need consistent moisture to germinate, but keep the bed from getting soggy.