New gardeners may find the timing of vegetable planting difficult. While frost dates are an indicator, what really matters is when plants will have enough time to reach harvest size in your particular climate.
Beginning slowly is best: grow only what your family will consume!
Many gardeners assume vegetable gardening ends as the daylight shortens in late summer; however, with just a little extra work you can keep growing fresh produce well into winter. Start by cleaning up your vegetable gardens in autumn – clearing away weeds while adding compost or organic fertilizers according to soil test results.
Once the ground has settled down, planting leafy vegetables such as kale, collard greens, and chard is an excellent idea. They’re low-growing yet hardy enough to withstand temperatures down to five degrees Fahrenheit during the winter season.
Sowing seeds of root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, turnips, swedes and kohlrabi is also an effective strategy for saving both time and effort during the winter season. Once planted in the ground these plants can simply be pulled as needed without taking up precious space in your yard or taking too much of your precious gardening effort!
Winter vegetable gardens should be planted in sunny locations that don’t experience excessive winds, preferably raised beds which will keep the ground warmer while protecting it against winds. As part of an autumn gardening plan, it would also be wise to cover soil with a thick layer of mulch which will conserve moisture while providing some protection from cold winds and frost.
Winter vegetables can be grown directly in the ground, though sowing seeds indoors with module or seed trays provides more reliable germination and is easier to protect against pests. If sowing directly, ensure the soil contains lots of organic matter with a low pH level for best results.
Start buying vegetable starts from nurseries or garden centers starting in late September for an easier gardening experience. Leafy greens grow best in soil that contains high levels of organic matter and lots of fertilizer.
Winter gardens need ample protection to stay healthy until spring harvest time. Cold winds, freeze/thaw cycles and harsh winter winds can quickly damage young growth; to help ensure its wellbeing you could use a polytunnel, cold frame or horticultural fleece to block out harsh winds while keeping sun on your crops while providing warmth from above and blocking harsh winter winds from below. This will keep them healthy until it comes time for harvesting in spring.
Many vegetables thrive in cool temperatures, such as salad greens and peas, so for optimal success it is vital that they be planted at just the right time in spring. The last frost date should play an integral role when planning your vegetable garden so keep an eye on its temperature when making plans.
Late February or early March is an ideal time for sowing seed indoors for kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, leeks, fennel escarole and radishes. Direct sowing radishes carrots beets outdoors is usually possible in mid to late March as well. April/May offers the ideal chance for sowing lettuce/rocket/chard under cloches before moving the second succession outdoors once frost risk has subsided in May; additionally it also makes courgettes and pumpkins!
Warm-season vegetables like tomatoes, peppers and corn grow as edible fruits rather than edible roots, stems and leaves; therefore they must be planted when both soil and air temperatures have warmed up sufficiently to support growth. As these veggies aren’t as hardy as cool-season crops they won’t perform as well if exposed to cold temperatures or frost, so wait two weeks after their average last frost date before planting them as otherwise they could die prematurely.
Vegetables require lots of water when they’re newly planted or transplanted, especially during their first few weeks in soil that’s too dry. Too-dry soil will prevent seeds from germinating or plants from establishing themselves; to make sure this doesn’t happen, water new seedlings and transplants daily until established; mature plants should receive daily irrigation if necessary. How much water each vegetable requires will depend on its soil type and texture – check your seed packet or guidebook for guidance if necessary.
Be careful when it comes to weeding. Overzealous weeding can damage young plants and deprive them of moisture they need for growth. Only water enough to moisten the top few inches of soil without over-watering; to test moisture content press your finger into it: crumbling indicates adequate soil moisture content; remaining balled-up or sandy surfaces indicate too much wetness that should be allowed to evaporate before planting or tilling begins.
Summer vegetable gardens can be bustling places. At this time of year, many crops sown earlier begin to fade and are ready for picking, particularly salads, radishes, kale and other cool-season plants such as salad. You could also plant tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers now for harvests through late fall; either indoors starting mid to late March or directly outdoors after any danger of frost has passed in May.
As the weather heats up, gardens must be tended regularly in order to remain healthy. This involves watering, weeding and removing any dead leaves or flowers that have begun to wither. People also take this time of year as an opportunity to replant their vegetable garden with new seeds; particularly those for cool-season crops such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage which benefit from longer days and warmer soil.
Tomatoes, peppers and eggplant are other popular summer crops to plant; similarly, cucumbers, squash and melons from the squash family require constant care and attention for optimal success. Therefore, planting these plants from seeds or purchased transplants is often best.
Now is an excellent time to plant another succession of radish, beet, carrot and other root vegetables; lettuce, parsnips and spinach seeds indoors as early as February but usually best planted outdoors between late March or April.
Tomatoes, peppers and eggplant can be planted outside from late May. Tomatoes should be placed under cover (in a greenhouse or on a sunny window sill) from February for best results. Courgettes, pumpkins and French beans may be direct-sown from March onwards under cloches; for best results these tender vegetables must first become acclimated to outdoor temperatures by gradually placing them outside each day for increasing amounts of time before being brought back inside at night to prepare them for planting out.
Once winter finally releases its grip, gardeners become excited at the thought of diving back into their dirt-related pursuits. A few sunny days and the sight of green (even if just weeds) get us excited enough to put shovels into the soil; but before making that step it’s important to determine if the soil is ready.
To prepare the ground for a fall garden, it is necessary to remove all debris and loosen up the soil by tilling or spading until a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Add organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure to improve soil structure and fertility before applying preplant fertilizers such as 10-10-10 or 0-10-5 at an application rate of one to two pounds per square foot of bed space.
Starting a vegetable garden in the fall depends on both your location and planting method; whether that be seed or “starts.” Check your region’s first frost date, then count backward using each plant variety’s “Days to Harvest” information; for instance if your region’s first frost date falls on October 15, consider sowing seed or transplanting fast-growing vegetables such as kale so they will be ready for harvest by November.
Be sure to water young transplants and seeds regularly after planting and as they mature, even in cool weather. Aim for one deep watering every week as this should keep the soil moist but not soggy; new transplants or seedlings may need more frequent light waterings until their roots develop; slow-growing fall vegetables benefit from an application of nitrogen just as they would during spring if maintained diligently – this may extend your growing season into spring or summer depending on where you reside!