Once your garden beds have been prepared and amended with amended soil, and you have determined which vegetables to plant and acquired the seeds or transplants, it’s time to plant! Pay attention to how long your growing season lasts before following any instructions listed on seed packets or plant tags regarding appropriate spacing for planting.
If you want to harvest vegetables this spring, planting early is key. Consult a calendar and look at your average last frost date as a starting point; local conditions may alter this estimate, and speaking to neighbors who already have established gardens may provide invaluable advice as they show when and what has worked in previous seasons.
Milder regions with light sandy soil can start sowing vegetable seeds directly in March – such as kale, spinach, peas and cauliflower. Starting indoors in a greenhouse from February can give seeds an early headstart; when temperatures warm up later they can be transferred directly into your garden.
Broccoli, brussel sprouts and carrots can be planted directly outdoors once the ground thaws. These hardy veggies are known as cool season crops and should be planted outdoors as soon as the risk of frost has passed – typically mid to late March in the US.
Other vegetables such as beets, potatoes and radishes should also be started indoors in order to be ready to transplant into their respective gardens in April. For optimal results when planting cole crops like cabbage, radish and cauliflower 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit should be the ideal temperature – to achieve best results, insert a soil thermometer and take readings two or three days later to establish a baseline reading.
Once the risk of frost has passed in May, it’s time to plant several more vegetables outdoors – from early and maincrop potatoes, through salads and summer lettuce crops. Start planting courgettes and pumpkins now, as well as tender vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and aubergines that need protection from frost if there’s an unexpected cold snap. Be sure to have rows covers available if the weather remains unpredictable; they may save your plants from sudden cold temperatures! Be sure to water regularly, as higher temperatures and longer days require vegetable seedlings to have enough moisture for establishment. Mulching your beds helps retain moisture while suppressing weeds; adding organic matter may improve drainage as well.
Summer vegetable gardens can be a source of rapid growth and lush foliage, not to mention yielding plenty of harvestable veggies that you can enjoy for years afterward.
Once the soil has warmed to workable temperatures (as indicated by a garden thermometer), sow fast-growing cool season veggies such as radishes, lettuce and spinach. Sowing in seed trays is easy and efficient; direct sowings of these crops into finely raked, loose soil is also viable.
Once your seedlings have germinated and the last frost date has passed, sow heat-loving vegetables in your garden. Check a calendar or talk with local farmers about when is usually the last frost date in your region; consult your Cooperative Extension Service or seek help at a garden center for guidance and assistance.
Tomatoes (both seed and plants) and peppers are heat lovers that should be planted when temperatures consistently reach over 70 degrees Fahrenheit. You may also sow black-eyed peas, beans (direct sow), okra, chard and eggplants at this time.
By mid to late summer, soil temperatures usually become warm enough for planting hardy vegetables such as beets, carrots, turnips, rutabagas, kale mustard greens and collards in your garden. You can also sow broccoli cauliflower and Brussels sprout seeds directly, however ideally these should first be started off under cover prior to transplanting outside in late spring.
As your garden expands in July, plant another batch of winter salad leaves like lamb’s lettuce and mustard greens as well as oriental leafy veggies such as mizuna and arugula. Also sow some chard in early fall so it can overwinter until harvesting in early spring; or plant garlic bulbs for later harvest if you prefer cold spells to foster growth. Be sure to water regularly so the soil remains damp yet not waterlogged – and watch out for damp conditions that might require cold spells!
At the height of summer, your garden might be overflowing with hot season vegetables like squash and tomatoes; but don’t overlook all of the cool-weather vegetables that thrive during autumn. Cooler temperatures allow them to grow faster than they would during hotter weather; harvest time usually comes within months! Plus, these crops can easily be planted again later for another crop of delicious produce!
Brussel sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower are cool-weather brassicas that produce abundantly when planted in fall. Indoor starts can be planted late summer or direct-sown directly in your garden four to six weeks before your first expected frost date for optimal growth; loose soil conditions are best.
Beans, peas, and radishes are among the many fast-growing vegetables best planted directly into loose dirt during fall direct sowing. Like snapping beans grown during spring plantings, these varieties must be gently pushed down so their tendrils do not dislodge from their place – French Breakfast and Long Black Spanish radishes make great choices!
Root vegetables such as turnips, beets and parsnips thrive in fall weather conditions. Mulching these veggies will keep them growing even when their tops wilt, with roots ready to harvest come winter time. If pests threaten your crop’s success, cover it with cardboard or one of many DIY plant covers available online to keep pests at bay.
Leafy greens, carrots and onions all benefit from being planted again in the fall. When planting them again in their original spot from summer gardening, be sure to clear any overwintering insects which could hinder or even harm your crop from leaving their eggs there for winter!
When starting seeds for broccoli, kale or chard in the fall it’s advisable to start them indoors approximately 10-12 weeks prior to your expected frost date. Once mature enough to move outdoors you can add additional protection in the form of cloches or row covers at night for your young plants.
As summer comes to a close, most gardeners are focused on clearing their beds and beginning their fall sowing efforts. But if you want to maintain vegetable production until early spring arrives, there’s still plenty of time left in winter to sow and cultivate vegetables.
With proper care and consideration, greens can continue to flourish all winter long. Leafy vegetables that tolerate cold temperatures thrive during this season and even become sweeter due to starches being turned into sugars by cold temperatures. Try growing kale, chard, and collards; they provide more nutrients per ounce than spinach, romaine lettuce or any other green.
Hardy plants like tomatoes can be easily seeded directly into the ground or transplanted from seedlings, and respond well to various season-extending techniques such as cloches, row covers and netting that provide shelter from harsh winter weather and pests.
Focus your sowing of these crops during late summer when weather and soil temperatures are optimal for their germination and growth. Module or seed trays may provide greater reliability than direct sowing, giving you early maturity once transplanted into the garden.
Once temperatures begin to decline, plant growth slows almost completely; but with proper protection via cloche or row cover they may resume growth come springtime. Overwintering vegetables that can be harvested in fall and winter include onions, leeks, and certain varieties of cauliflower.
Regular watering is key to success when gardening during colder temperatures when soil dries out more quickly than during summer. A drip irrigation system helps conserve water by keeping it in the soil longer, but make sure not to overwater, which can damage roots and encourage fungal diseases. For guidance, reach out to experts at your local garden center who specialize in growing many different kinds of crops; they’ll gladly assist in getting you started.