When To Plant Vegetables

vegetable gardening

Emma DowneyByEmma Downey
Updated on 8/13/2022

You have a general idea of the vegetables you want to put in your garden. But at what stage should each type of vegetable be planted? How soon after spring can you plant tomato seeds? How much later than Halloween can you plant pumpkins? Do you really plant potatoes on the day that celebrates St. Patrick's Day? This article will assist you in knowing the appropriate time to sow your vegetables in the garden.

We are going to assist you in gaining an understanding of how to choose the optimal days to sow your crops. If you discover that reading this article is too much for you to handle at the moment, you don't need to worry about following all of the links to more references right away. Simply go ahead and read the entire article.

A helpful hint: If you just remember one item after reading this post, make it the "Tools" section since we will truly compute "When to Plant" for you! However, it is essential to comprehend the rationale of planting at the times that we do since this will prove useful in the long run.

How Are You Supposed to Know When to Plant Something?

vegetables

There are a few different considerations that we need to take into account in order to determine the optimal time to grow each type of vegetable in the garden:

  • Your Area's Frost Dates A frost date is a date that, on average, the first or final light freeze of the spring and fall seasons occurs in your area. View our Frost Date Calculator for your location for further information and as a point of reference.
  • Depending on how sensitive each vegetable is to frost, we plant it either a set number of weeks before or after the average frost date for that particular vegetable. Frost can be detrimental to the health of many plants, even leading to their demise in some cases.
  • Frost provides us with information about the temperature of the soil, which is another component that plays a role in determining whether or not plants can be successfully grown. See the following chart for the minimal low temperatures that cause frost damage.
  • Bear in mind that frost dates aren't always accurate when describing your microclimate. There may be a variety of "microclimates" on your property. Your frost dates will be affected, to put that another way, whether you reside at the foot of a mountain or in close proximity to a body of water. There is also a difference that can be seen if your garden is located next to a brick wall or on a patio that gets a lot of suns.
  • But here's how you may make use of the many microclimates: See also our video on how to generate microclimates in order to boost the yield of your harvest.
  • Your Personal Experience: If you know that planting peas or potatoes on St. Patrick's Day and tomatoes on Mother's Day has always brought you the best results, continue doing what has been successful for you in the past.

vegetable gardening

It goes without saying that we can't forget the unpredictability of nature. There is always the possibility that our garden will be affected by an unexpected frost at an inconvenient moment. However, we also have the option of protecting our garden from the cold.

Instruments for Establishing the Times of Planting

We have two wonderful tools that will be of great use to you in determining the optimal times to plant fruits, vegetables, herbs, and other such things:

  1. Planting Dates Calendar: Our totally free planting calendar already computes the last frost dates for all of the vegetables in one convenient tool, and it is based on your specific zip code. It will inform you of the best time to sow seeds indoors as well as outdoors, as well as the best time to plant young plants outside at the appropriate time. Please use this link to get the Almanac Planting Calendar.
  2. The Garden Planner is a planning tool that is even more complete than the others that we offer. It not only tells you the earliest planting dates based on the frosts, but it also tells you the full range of planting, growing, and harvesting dates. You will have to pay for this tool on an annual basis, but you may test it out for free for a period of seven days—plenty of time to map out your first garden! To access the Almanac Garden Planner.

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Considerations to Make Before Planting in the Spring

We grow veggies that thrive in chilly weather in the early stages of spring. Since we are directly following winter, during which the ground may have been frozen, the temperature of the soil is the primary concern Planting in the Spring. Because almost everywhere gets frost, the ground has to be warm enough for the seeds to sprout before they can be planted. In addition to this, it can't be too damp, or the seeds may rot.

vegetable gardening

Soil Temperature

Knowing the temperature of your soil is an even more accurate factor to rely on than frost dates, which are more of a broad guideline and are suitable for novices. Frost dates are calculated using historical averages and future estimates, which means they might shift quite a little from one year to the next. Readings taken of the soil's temperature, on the other hand, are cold, hard numbers!

However, you will have to purchase a soil thermometer in order to assess the temperature of the soil in your garden. They are not prohibitively pricey. To obtain a reading, you need just bury the thermometer for several days in succession at a depth of a few inches and then remove it. When planting transplants as opposed to seeds, dig the hole a little bit deeper. Check the minimum temperatures required for germination in the soil.

vegetable gardening

Plantings Made in the Spring

Because some crops that are planted in the spring reach maturity in a relatively short amount of time while others do so in a greater amount of time, it is essential to learn how to properly schedule your plantings by consulting the maturity dates listed on the seed packets.

  • Plant vegetables like lettuce, spinach, and other leafy greens that mature swiftly throughout the cool season and can be harvested in the spring.
  • Plant crops that thrive in the cooler months so they can be harvested in the early summer (peas, broccoli, cabbage, and others)
  • Planting times for crops with a very brief harvest window should be staggered (peas, radishes, turnips). Radishes, for instance, typically reach maturity in around 21 days, and you want to harvest them as soon as they reach maturity; if you don't, their flavor will become woody. So, rather than planting all of your radish seeds at the same time, which would require you to harvest them all at the same time, stagger the plantings by anywhere from seven to fourteen days.

Naturally, you can get a head start on spring by starting seeds indoors in the latter part of winter. People that reside in the far north and are faced with a limited growing season can benefit from this. If you're just starting off, it might be too advanced for you, but if you're interested, check out our tips on starting seeds indoors and learning which vegetables do the best.

vegetable gardening

Considerations for Planting in the Summer

The so-called "warm-season" crops cannot be planted until the soil has sufficiently warmed up, which typically does not occur until the latter part of spring or the early part of summer, depending on your climate. Tomatoes, peppers, and melons are crops that are extremely sensitive to frost and require a warmer soil temperature than other plants. If you sow the seeds too soon in the cool soil of spring, they have a lower chance of germinating and will be of lower quality. Additionally, the growth rate of transplants is relatively modest.

According to a piece of conventional wisdom that we have here at the Almanac, by the end of the month of July, all summer plants, regardless of when they were initially planted in the ground, will have caught up to their peers. To put it another way, quicker growth during warm weather will make it possible for later plantings to catch up with earlier plants that were carried out before the soil could be considered warm enough.

When you are planning the planting schedule for your garden, it is important to remember to take into account the maturity dates that are printed on the seed packages.

vegetable gardening

  • Some of the warm-season crops, such as bush beans and sweet corn, have relatively limited periods during which they are harvested. It is possible to sow a succession of a wide variety of warm-season crops at different times throughout the early summer season, which will lengthen the amount of time available for harvesting.
  • Because vegetables that thrive in warm weather, such as tomatoes, pole beans, and squash, produce over an extended length of time, you normally only need to do one planting of each of these.

Things to Consider Before Planting in the Fall

We refer to this as "autumn planting"; however, the crops are actually planted in the middle to late part of summer. This is because the crops mature in the fall. There are significant benefits to extending the growing season for certain gardeners; however, not all novice gardeners will choose to plant in the fall. To begin, the temperature of the earth is already pleasant! Getting plants off to a good start is a lot less difficult. The second advantage is that there are fewer insects and other unwanted creatures. If you want the most harvest possible, try extending your season.

  • Planting warm-season crops with a speedy harvest window during the middle of summer is recommended (bush beans, corn).

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  • In the middle of summer, you can also plant autumn vegetables that mature more slowly (parsnips, rutabagas, brussels sprouts, and others)
  • Late in the summer, when the temperature starts to cool off a bit, you should plant veggies that mature quickly (lettuce, radish, others).

The difficulty, of course, is in the fact that you can't put off planting your autumn crops for too long. In that case, all of your hard work may be undone by an autumn frost that arrives early.

How to Determine When Your Garden Was Last Planted

  1. First things first, figure out when your first fall frost typically occurs on average. (Our Frost Dates Calculator can be found here.)
  2. The next step is to examine the seed packets you have, which should inform you how long it will take each plant to mature. Count backward from the date of the first fall frost to see how many days have passed since that date.
  3. After that, add another ten to fourteen days so that there is enough time for harvesting.
  4. Last but not least, due to the fact that autumn days are cooler, shorter, and receive less direct sunshine, we need to add a "fall factor" and push back the original date by seven to ten days.

vegetable gardening

For instance, the Black Seeded Simpson lettuce takes 45 days to mature into its full size. Add 14 additional days for the harvest, and then add seven further days for a "fall factor." This equates to a grand total of 66 days. If the first day of autumn frost typically occurs in your area around November 1, you would need to subtract 66 days from this total and plant your seeds on August 26. You can plant two to three weeks later if you intend to provide your plants with protection, and you can still anticipate having a successful crop.

This helpful fall garden guide includes the latest planting times for a variety of common crops.

In addition, the following is some guidance regarding the types of vegetables that should be planted in the fall.

  • It is imperative that you harvest all of your warm-season vegetables, such as pumpkins, winter squash, tomatoes, melons, peppers, and beans, before the first fall frost.
  • Turnips, rutabagas, and winter radishes are three examples of cool-season vegetables that can be left in the ground after it has frosted but before the ground freezes as long as the soil is kept moist.
  • Additionally, vegetables such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, collard and kale, kohlrabi, chard, and spinach are able to overwinter in the soil and continue to grow until the temperature falls below freezing.
  • In addition, garlic is sown in the autumn for a crop the following summer. See our guide on how to grow garlic.