One of the most important things about gardening is understanding when to plant and when not to plant. If you get this right, you’ll be able to see your flowers bloom and vegetables grow crops. But, in the wrong seasons, you might as well be wasting your time. This guide will help you understand when to plant vegetables to get the best harvest for your garden.
Growing your own veggies is a great way to eat healthy and fresh. Not only do you get to choose which crops you plant, you’ll also make sure that they’re free or chemicals and additives. Having a vegetable garden at home also ensures that your produce is fresh. And, you’ll save a lot of money since there’s no need to buy them from the grocery or farmer’s market.
So how and when should you plant your vegetable garden? Let’s take a closer look.
Plant According to Your Zone
The first thing to consider is where you live. The city you live it determines what kind of weather you have.
If you live in California, Arizona or Florida for example, then there’s no need to worry about snow or cold winters.
The opposite it is true if you live in the Northeast where the cold months can be brutal. Similarly, areas in the Pacific Northwest experience a lot of rain which makes your planting conditions different.
The best way figure all these things out is to take a look at the USDA’s (United States Department of Agriculture) Hardiness Zone Map.
The map divides the entire North America region into zones. These zones are numbered from 1 to 11, where zone 11 is the warmest areas and zone 1 is the coldest. By using this, you’re able to figure out the temperature your city gets.
This helps you choose the right types of plants that are suited for your zone. Plants are grouped by how cold a temperature they can withstand. So, when you know this, you’ll be able to see if specific plants will thrive in your zone.
Be Aware of Microclimates
Now that you know your zone, it’s worthwhile to check the microclimates in your area.
Microclimates are climates that are specific to smaller areas. For example, if you live in a big city like New York, the climate in Queens can be different from the Bronx.
Similarly, if you live California, the climate in Santa Diego is very different from Los Angeles.
Besides the location, there are other things that make microclimates vary even if you live nearby. This includes the number of building, trees, open spaces, how congested it is and many other factors.
Even small things like swimming pools, shades and gardens can help make an area experience cooler temperatures compared to one that’s just 2 to 3 miles away.
The same is true if you live up in an apartment building. The wind and weather high up is much cooler than on the ground. Plus, they’re protected from flooding, frost or thick snow.
What Type of Vegetables Are You Planting?
Once you’ve figured out the weather in your specific area, it’s time to see which kinds of veggies are suited to them.
In general, there are two seasons where you can plant veggies. These are the warm and cool seasons.
- Plants like corn, peppers, tomatoes and okra are warm season vegetables. They thrive in tropical climates.
- Meanwhile, cool season vegetables are better suited for cooler weather. This allows them to grow to their full potential. Veggies like spinach, broccoli and potatoes are some examples of cool season vegetables.
So, it’s important to check what kind of vegetables you want to plant before putting them into the ground. This way, you’re giving the best chance to grow crop.
Here’s a cool infographic that shows you when the best times to plant vegetables are.
When Should You Plant Warm Season Vegetables for Best Results?
Warm season plants don’t like the cold. They have problems surviving when the temperature goes below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. And, for this reason, they’re now well-suited for winter time.
If you have plants that are growing towards the winter months, it’s a good idea to bring them indoors or to an area where they are warm. You will also want to protect them from the cold using covers or devices that extend the season.
Otherwise, it’s better to wait until spring before planting them. If not, you might be wasting your time because they’ll have a hard time surviving, at best, they won’t grow.
These plants thrive on warm weather. So, you’ll want to plant fruits and veggies like squash, melons, eggplants, cucumbers and artichokes when the sun is out during spring or when summer arrives.
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When Do You Plant Cool Season Vegetables in Your Garden?
The opposite is true for cool season vegetables. These plants like the cold. Although, you don’t want to expose them to overly cold temperatures or frost.
Cool season vegetables like temperatures between 40 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes the cooler months better options to plant them.
Unlike warm season plants, cool season seeds like the colder soil. This allows them to germinate.
And, as you would guess, you’ll want to harvest them before the heat of the summer comes. These plants do not like temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Finally, it’s also important to note that different veggies like different temperatures. So, it’s not a good idea to assume that all cool season plants are the same.
For example, broccoli, beets and carrots like temperatures of about 60 degrees. Onions, turnips, cabbages and leeks like it a bit colder at around 50 degrees.
Kale, lettuce, spinach and arugula meanwhile thrive on 40 degrees or so.