When spring comes, we are anxious to get our gardens planted. We don’t want to wait until warm summer days to start planting. So how to know what is the best time to get started?
Vegetable gardens can only be planted during specific times of the year. Seeds and seedlings require minimum soil temperatures to develop and grow. They need optimal soil temperatures to thrive.
The best time to seed vegetables depends on the type of plants. Cold-weather plants can be started soon after the last frost, and warm-weather vegetables should not be planted until warmer days of May or June.
In cold climates, the soil temperature in gardens hardly reaches 80 degrees at all. And even if it did, it might not be enough as crops wouldn’t have a chance to send up green shoots before frost.
Gardeners in hot-climate need to get their crops planted earlier so they will have a chance to mature before the hotness of the summer months.
A part of having a homestead-garden is growing your own vegetables. To grow your own food, you need to know when to plant them?
If you are growing your own fruit and vegetables, it’s important to know about the different seasons, as many vegetables need to be planted at different times of the year.
Vegetables differ not only in size, color, shape, and taste but in their preferred growing conditions, too. Understanding when to plant vegetables depends on your climate and conditions—and the vegetable itself.
Relative to climate, vegetables are divided into two groups: cool season and warm season. Here are the steps you should take into consideration when planting vegetables.
How to find the right time?
Solving when to plant vegetables in your area requires some searching. You’ll need to look a few other variables on top of your geographic location, as well.
Factors to look – when to put your crops in the ground:
- The type of plants you are going to grow and
- How you are going to plant them (seedlings, transplants or seeds)
In an area with clear terms, your growing season will fall loosely between:
- Your expected frost-free date in the spring and
- The first hard frost date in the fall.
It is impossible to say these dates with full certainty. We have to use some general guidelines from online resources.
You might try to search for:
- “frost-free date” + your geographic area
That should give you a valid view of when it might be safe to plant in your region.
Here is one resource for that:
But you have to be careful, as you never know when an unexpected late-season snow storm or unseasonably cold temperature hits into your area nowadays, as weathers are changing so rapidly.
However, if daytime soil temperature reaches 65 degrees or more, and you wait until after the expected frost-free date for your area, you should be safe. And you can always cover your garden beds with dark plastic sheets for a couple of weeks before planting to warm the soil faster.
As you form your yearly planting timeline, keep those two critical “frost-dates” as a guideline around your prime growing season.
However, if you want to extend your growing season even further, you can start seeds indoors. You can also protect your plants from cold temperatures with mulch, row covers, cold frames, or mini-hoop houses.
Ask Your Neighbors
Especially the elder neighbors, who have been living in your area for a very long time, might have practical information about the best times. There might be a little micro-climate that differs from the general temperatures of the area, and you might find it quickly by talking to the neighbors!
Plants need certain days to maturity
When you buy seeds, pay attention to the days to maturity information on the packages or plant markers. This shows you how many days it will take for the plant to be ready to harvest.
Some greens reach the harvest date much faster than others. For example, after they are sown as seeds, lettuce, radishes, and baby carrots can be ready in a month. Some pumpkin varieties can take a full 4-5 months before they are ready to harvest.
That gives you an idea of how early you need to get that plant into the ground so that it has enough time to reach maturity before the first hard frost date in the fall.
It also gives you an indication of how late in the spring you can plant certain varieties. For example, don’t wait until late summer in colder climates to plant pumpkins seeds that require 5 months to grow. On the other hand, fast-growing lettuce varieties can be planted 1-2 months or so before your expected frost time in the fall.
Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location. The map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree F zones.
Learning what to plant and when in your area is an integral part of your gardening endeavor. Knowing your prime growing season, when it begins and ends, and how to get the most out of it, will make you a successful gardener. It helps you to choose which plants to grow and how to help those varieties prosper in your beautiful garden.