Vegetable gardening can be an incredibly satisfying endeavor for anyone willing to put in the time and effort necessary. While beginning gardeners will require some knowledge and perseverance, even novice gardeners can harvest abundant yields.
Choose a location with full sun. Vegetables need 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day in order to thrive, and planting tall crops such as corn, indeterminate tomatoes or pole beans on the north side of your garden so they do not shade shorter plants.
No matter your gardening experience or ambitions, spring can be an exciting time to begin planting vegetables. Just two months from now you could be enjoying fresh homegrown greens, potatoes and more from your own plot! But when should you plant?
Based on your zone, cool weather crops should be planted indoors in late February or early March for transplant outdoors as soon as the soil can support it. This gives you a headstart on growing season and guarantees your veggies arrive on your dinner table before summer heat arrives!
Cool-season vegetables are those which produce edible roots, stems, leaves or buds and thrive in cool to warm temperatures. Cool-season crops should be planted as soon as the ground can be worked in spring to allow time for rapid growth before the arrival of summer’s scorching heat.
Springtime cool-season vegetables that can be grown outdoors include spinach, kale, carrots and peas. Frost-sensitive plants such as peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, squash and tomatillos should be started indoors from March until mid-April.
Rhubarb makes an excellent addition to any veggie garden. Though technically not considered a vegetable, rhubarb’s perennial nature ensures it will return year after year – making it easy to cultivate in early spring and adding vibrant hues and colors into any dish you create!
As soon as the ground warms up, hardy annual vegetables such as cabbage, chard, broccoli, kohlrabi and collards can be planted directly outdoors as soon as the risk of frost has passed – including cabbage, chard, broccoli kohlrabi and collards. Though they take longer to mature than quicker-growing frost-tolerant crops like peas, they should still make it onto your dinner table before summer temperatures hit full-swing.
As you plant your veggies, ensure to regularly monitor soil temperatures and avoid working in it when they are too cold or wet – this can prevent compacted soil, which leads to compacting and rot. Use your hands or a tool to test soil temperatures if it appears too cool before planting; otherwise cover seeds or plants with Walls O’ Water, HotKaps or insulated blankets in order to shield from colder temperatures and snowfall.
Owning your own vegetable garden can yield a bountiful harvest year-round. The trick lies in knowing when and how to plant, so your crops mature before temperatures become too cold or hot for them. With some techniques you may even extend the growing season into winter in certain climates! To determine the ideal timing for your garden it’s important to closely monitor local climate and weather conditions.
Late summer is an excellent time for harvesting root crops such as beets and carrots before the ground freezes; some varieties even become sweeter when left in place covered with thick mulch layers. Furthermore, late summer provides an opportunity to replant vegetable greens such as kale, lettuce and spinach for another harvest cycle.
If you’re planting vegetables in a garden, it is vital to provide adequate irrigation as required. Soil moisture levels must remain moist but not soggy for best results; most vegetables require slightly acidic soil; an effective garden soil test kit will enable you to adjust its pH as necessary. It is also wise to amend your soil annually with organic material like compost, peat moss or coconut fiber (coir), which improve the structure of your soil as well as enriching it with essential nutrients.
Once frost risk has passed in May, you can begin direct sowing various seeds directly. May is an ideal month for sowing salad rocket and lettuce crops or planting quick-growing, quick-maturing crops such as radishes.
Start sowing seeds of warm-season vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and melons now for best results. Cooler weather may allow you to start squash and melons; now is an excellent time for planting okra and southern peas as well. By mid-July most spring-planted green beans have faded and it is an opportune moment to sow a second batch of bush beans like Royal Burgundy or Blue Lake that will provide delicious greens throughout fall!
Fall is an ideal time for planting cool-weather vegetables such as leafy greens, root veggies, cabbages and broccoli in hardiness zones eight and above gardens. By protecting against freezing temperatures while enjoying shorter days and cooler temperatures during autumn planting season, harvesting will continue right through winter without freezing temperatures threatening their harvesting potential. Furthermore, cooler temperatures help delay vegetable maturity so less is exposed to mold damage or insect attacks during harvesting time.
Some vegetables can also be planted early spring, but others thrive more in cooler conditions. To know when and how to plant a fall garden of veggies, it’s important to calculate how long it will take your crops to mature based on your average first frost date – this can be accomplished using seed packet information or an online Garden Planner which allows you to draw out planting beds with specific rows for specific veggies with adequate spacing between seeds.
Leafy greens are essential to our diets and thrive quickly in cool autumn temperatures. Plant lettuce greens in late summer or early fall or sow kale or collards (they actually taste better after being exposed to light frost!). Both seed varieties thrive in cool, moist soil of cool-season veggie patches!
Peas are another fast-growing choice for your cool season garden, making for an impressive harvest in just months. Sow sweet and delicious “Sugar Snap” or “Austrian Winter” varieties in late summer to early fall for maximum yield and flavor!
Kohlrabi is an autumn and winter vegetable that thrives in most climates, flourishing through autumn to winter in most environments. Cool temperatures help their tight-closed heads stay tender and juicy for harvesting in early autumn – make these varieties part of your autumn/winter garden staple! Sow the China Rose or Long Black Spanish varieties now!
Alliums such as garlic and onions are staples in any vegetable garden, and fall is the ideal time to plant them. Start them indoors in late summer before transplanting them, or sow directly into the ground in autumn – being sure to protect them at night with either cloches or row covers depending on your climate conditions.
As temperatures cool off in late summer, it may be tempting to call time on gardening until spring – but with proper planning you could extend harvests well into 2019.
The key is selecting cold-season crops that thrive in winter’s cool temperatures, such as leafy greens such as kale, Swiss chard, arugula and spinach; carrots, turnips and some brassicas (such as Brussels sprouts and cabbage). All these veggies tolerate light frost without decelerating growth – and many even taste better once frost has set in!
To determine when it’s best to plant vegetables in your area, consult a planting timing chart which shows when to sow seeds and transplants for different crops in your region. These charts can usually be found either online or at garden centers.
As a general guideline, it is wise to sow warm-season crops like beans, squash and tomatoes well in advance of their expected first frost date in fall; and sow cool-season varieties in early to mid fall. To give seeds the best start possible, they should be planted into soil that has been amended with plenty of compost or organic matter for maximum success.
When selecting the ideal spot for a winter garden, make sure that it is both sunny and protected from wind. A south-facing bed will allow sunlight to heat the ground during the day and radiate it back into your garden at night. Whenever possible, situate beds near structures which offer shelter from wind such as fences or walls.
Water your vegetables well when sowing and planting them, but then sparingly until they have become established and growing strongly. Water individual plants rather than watering the entire bed to reduce weed seedlings getting an early start. Once established, only additional watering should be required during extremely dry periods or leafy green harvest. Be careful not to overwater, however; that can cause them to rot! You might want to consider covering your bed with a row cover to provide added protection from rain or snowfall as well as pests like snails!