Best Time To Plant Vegetable Garden

 Time To Plant Vegetable Garden

Time To Plant Vegetable Garden

 Time To Plant Vegetable Garden

When to Plant Vegetables

When to plant vegetables depends a lot on where you live, and when you can expect your last frost of the season.  For some people that will be early February; for others, late May.  Roughly a week or two after your average last frost date is when you can start putting vegetables out in your garden.

Where do You Live?

You’ll often see a reference to something called a plant hardiness zone.  This zone is defined by the cold weather (or lack thereof) expected in your area in an average year.  For example, I live in zone 10a; great for peppers, lousey for cabbage.

If you’d like to know the plant hardiness zone where you live, check out this interactive map of the zones.

Keep in mind though that even the best gardener can lose plants due to frosts and an early winter that they were not expecting. Gardening can be a trial and error project at times, but if done properly it’s well worth the effort.  As an example, I almost never get a freeze where I live — but I did last week!  (Yes, my plants survived- whew!)

Vegetable Seeds or Plants?

Vegetable seed packets will state something along the lines of “plant seeds 6 to 8 weeks before the last expected frost date”.  By giving the seeds 6 to 8 weeks to sprout and mature, you’ve got a jump on the planting.  This is especially important if you have a short growing season.

If you’re late on starting seeds, you can usually buy vegetable plants in your local garden center.  They are a  great idea if you can’t start seeds yourself (or are too late in doing so).  You just won’t have as wide a selection of plants as you do seeds.

In any case, don’t try to transplant into your garden until at least a week after your last frost date, for best results.  Ideally, your soil temperature should be at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit for your plants to grow.

What Kinds of Vegetables?

Vegetables such as onions, peas, salad greens, cabbage, and broccoli are able to grow in temperatures that are cooler, even dipping to near-freezing temperatures.  Just keep a watchful eye on the weather and be prepared to cover them if the temperatures dip into the 30s.

Vegetables such as eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, melons and squash love warm weather, and will die if you try to grow them in temperatures that dip into the upper 30s at night.   I’m speaking from experience here — I once lost a gorgeous crop of tomatoes when I didn’t pay attention to the forecast.  These warm-weather plants do their best when the days are in the low 80s and the nights are in the upper 50s to low 60s. 

There are ways to grow plants “out of your zone”, if you get creative.  There are tomatoes bred for cooler weather, like Oregon Spring and Stupice.  There are spinach greens that can grow in warmer climates like mine, if I plant early in the season.  The vegetable seed packets themselves usually don’t give you enough information.  Your best bet is to check with one of the seed companies like Park’s and read the (quite detailed) descriptions.

When to Plant Vegetables Summary

When to plant vegetables in your garden is mostly science but also part art.  If you’re unsure of the plant-out times in your area, check with a local plant nursery (not a garden center attached to a department store) as to the best dates for your area.

If your weather unexpectedly turns cold, you may lose some plants — but you can always but some more seedlings when the weather stabilizes.  You’ll be glad you did, come harvest time!

Tags: Best Time to Plant Vegetable Garden, Vegetable Seeds, When to Plant Vegetables

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