Your vegetable garden is an enjoyable and fulfilling project that will provide delicious fresh produce throughout the summer. Knowing when is best to plant will guarantee a plentiful harvest.
Hardy vegetables to plant early include beans (pole and bush varieties), beets, carrots, rutabagas, radishes, turnips and lettuce; all can withstand frosty conditions and colder weather.
Tomatoes are warm-weather plants that should only be planted outdoors once frost risk has passed. If early frosts are an issue in your area, sowing seeds indoors in late February or March is recommended, before transplanting the seedlings outdoors once frost risk has subsided.
Make sure that the soil is well-drained and that your planting site has full sun. A determinate variety is recommended for easy harvesting and compact growth habits; determinate varieties may become leggy over time and require additional support staking.
Once ready to plant tomatoes, harden off by setting them out in the sunlight for several hours each day at first and gradually increasing the length of time spent outdoors. Water regularly and mulch to conserve soil moisture and minimize weed growth. Watch out for sap-sucking pests like aphids or whiteflies which may need killing with sprays of neem oil or insecticidal soap sprays.
Pepper plants thrive in warm, sunny areas that receive full sunlight. Like tomatoes, pepper plants do best when planted in rich soil that has been improved with compost or well-composted manure amendment.
When transplanting, follow the recommended spacing on seed packets or plant tags. Water regularly after planting, then weekly throughout the growing season – deep and consistent watering can help prevent blossom end rot, which is common when fruit ripens in hot climates.
Mulching can help preserve soil moisture levels, but only apply it once the soil has warmed. Peppers don’t thrive well in wet conditions, so performing a soil test to identify fertility needs and whether additional fertilizer should be applied is invaluable. Water plants daily until established (depending on weather) to keep soil evenly moist; don’t overwater as that will stress vegetable plants; using soaker hose or drip irrigation can reduce disease problems significantly.
Create a list of your family’s preferred vegetables so that you can plan successive plantings throughout the season and reap fresh harvest.
Most annual vegetables fall under the “cool-season” classification and should be planted before the last frost in spring, or indoors as early as February for an early start. Some can even be started off under cover in a greenhouse or on sunny windowsills as early as March for maximum harvest once temperatures warm up further.
Vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, lima beans, cantaloupe and muskmelon require temperatures consistently over 55 degrees F for successful cultivation. Use a soil thermometer to monitor soil temperatures, waiting until at least 55 degrees is reached before planting these crops outdoors.
Beets should be planted between spring and late summer when temperatures are cool and soil temperatures are rising. Seeds should be directly planted into your garden or container and thinned as seedlings emerge (bigger varieties need more space). Mulch can help prevent weeds while conserving moisture – both essential components in beet production!
Indoor seed-starting methods employing sterile seed-starting mix and heat mat can speed germination of beet seedlings. Once they’re transplanted, thinning beet seedlings to one per pot is the way to go when transplanting is time. Once planted, beets require relatively easy care as they prefer full sun conditions with about an inch of rainfall per week needed; regular weeding helps avoid diseases like leaf spot, mosaic virus and beet rot; to ensure maximum soil health with each planting cycle to help prevent disease build-up in soil conditions that’s ideal.
Cabbage plants are cool-season vegetables that prefer light frosts and flourish best when planted in well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. Sow seeds indoors 6-8 weeks prior to your region’s last spring frost date and transfer seedlings outdoors as soon as the frost risk has subsided.
Choose cabbage varieties such as Copenhagen Market for ball-shaped 6-inch heads that hold their shape well; Modern Dwarf for compact plants with small heads; or Stonehead with its heavy and firm heads resistant to splitting and yellowing. When planting new seedlings, cover them with spun poly row covers to deter maggots, aphids and other pests from overwintering in your greenhouse.
Cabbages, as heavy feeders, benefit from regular side dressing with liquid fish emulsion or slow-release organic vegetable fertilizer. Mulching planting beds with straw or shredded leaves to block out competing weeds that threaten nutrients and moisture availability to the cabbage plants is also helpful in protecting their nutritional needs.
Carrots should be planted directly in the garden as soon as the soil becomes workable in spring. To do so, fork the soil and rake to an even tilth; add plenty of well-rotted compost or manure to lighten its weight; if necessary amend with general purpose fertilizers as needed.
Maintain the upper inch of soil at an ideal moisture level for 7-14 days after planting your carrots, then reduce watering frequency as desired to avoid moisture fluctuations that cause split roots. If watering, do so consistently in order to ensure healthy roots.
Carrot seeds are tiny, making planting them easier when mixed with sand before sowing. Thin the seedlings when they have three to four true leaves before repeating sowings in spring and midsummer for harvests that span the growing season.
Sweet corn needs constant irrigation from seed germination through silking and ear formation, depending on its climate and soil type. Watering frequency will depend on both variables.
Planting sweet corn in blocks increases your odds of successful pollination and will produce dense cobs filled with kernels. Select either a normal-sugar variety like “Argent”, or super-sweet varieties like “Iochief” for optimal flavor and disease resistance.
Winter salads such as Lamb’s lettuce, mustard greens and Winter Gem oriental leaves provide fresh harvesting through the colder months. Chard planting should continue into autumn for second crop harvesting. Cover seed trays with black plastic or horticultural fleece two to four weeks prior to sowing outdoors to warm the soil before taking it outdoors – you’ll only have to remove these covers when your soil becomes workable!
Cucumbers are warm-season vegetables that thrive when both air and soil temperatures reach 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Since cucumber plants cannot withstand frost, it is recommended to plant them outdoors one or two weeks after the last spring frost date.
Cucumber vines are quick-growing plants that thrive under full sunlight for at least 6 to 8 hours each day and an easily draining, fertile soil. To improve heavy clay soils and add organic matter, work in some finished compost or aged manure into the mix before planting your cucumber vines. Also get your soil tested prior to sowing for accurate pH and nutrient levels.
As new seeds and transplants establish themselves, it is necessary to water regularly but not excessively to prevent root rot. Regular fertilization with balanced liquid feed also supports their success, and mulching provides uniform moisture distribution while decreasing weeds. Cucumbers contain 96% water so constant moisture supplies are vital in order to avoid drought stress.
As with tomatoes, eggplant (Solanum melongena) is one of the easiest warm-season vegetables to grow. From classic deep purple varieties like Black Beauty or pinkish-purple and white fruited varieties heirloom varieties are easy to grow and add great flavorful eggplant can be used in salads, casseroles and stir fry dishes alike!
If growing eggplants in your garden, try to avoid planting where tomatoes or peppers were grown in the past three years to avoid spreading diseases that can kill eggplant plants. Make sure that a balanced fertilizer is applied at planting time and every four weeks according to label directions; over-fertilizing may result in bushy growth that reduces fruit production.
Seeds should be planted indoors in March or April to give your seeds the best chance at germinating successfully and the soil temperatures have warmed sufficiently to support their germination. Once germinated, seedlings should be transplanted when temperatures between 70-85 F have been achieved.
Many herbs are annuals, though chives and cilantro often come back from roots while parsley can last two seasons. Once harvested or allowed to self-sow again, remove spent herbs by pulling or letting reseed themselves, raking over the space, adding two inches of compost, and then lightly tamping down topsoil until light consistency has been reached before sowing new seeds or transplanting new seedlings or transplants into it.
Late May or June is an optimal time for planting frost-tender half-hardy crops directly outdoors after frost risk has passed, such as beans (bush and pea), lettuce, carrots and salads such as rocket and summer salad.
If you want to try growing perennial herbs like sage, lavender and thyme for the first time this month is an ideal opportunity. Create an herb bed layout by drawing out an outline map with all your beds arranged according to size and arrangement.