The Vegetable Garden

Planting Schedules

    When to Plant Vegetable Seeds

    Each USDA zone has its own schedule for sowing seeds. If you're new to vegetable gardening, you'll want to know that there is a right time to plant each variety of vegetable seed. By following our zone chart for both cool and warm season vegetables, you'll be sure to plant your seeds at the correct time, enabling optimum sprouting and yield. And don't forget, the seeds you pick are also of the greatest importance. Even if you are an old hand in the vegetable garden, we hope that our USDA zone planting chart will be a useful tool for organizing your spring and summer vegetable planting.

    Zone 1-2          Zone 3-4          Zone 5-6          Zone 7-8          Zones 9-10

    Not sure what your USDA Zone is? Enter your zip code to find out.

    Matching your vegetables to your season duration is a wonderful  recommendation . If your growing season is approximately 90 days, growing anything claiming to mature in that amount of time or less ought to be easy. If you push the envelope, be prepared to help that variety with an early start indoors or some extra coddling in the fall. With experience, you can find out what you can and are willing to do.

    First, though, get an idea of the growing seasons for your zone that you have to contend with (for info on growing seasons by zones, see below). In most cases, the vegetable gardening season is summer, surrounded by late spring and early fall. Gardeners indicate the start by the last spring frost date and the end  by the initial autumn frost date (although a few plants, like parsnips and kale, can keep on exposed in the cold a tad longer and even obtain more desirable flavor).

    Your local weather analyst might broadcast the frost date every  spring (last frost) and autumn (first frost), or you can telephone your nearby Cooperative Extension Office and ask. The dates differ slightly from one year to the next. If your growing period is lengthy and warm, you can get started earlier and perhaps even plant two or three rounds of crops. You might have to contend with sweltering, dry weather conditions at the peak of summer, which is stressful for a number of vegetable plants (so mulch them and provide additional water).

    If your growing period is brief, you can nonetheless have a extremely abundant veggie garden. Decide on vegetables that mature quicker, and attempt a few season extending methods. Here are two favorites:

    1. Start seeds first indoors or inside a cold frame, which is basically a box covered with glass or plastic that protects smaller plants from excessive cold and wind. Raising them to seedling size until putting them out in the ground is safe.
    2. Use plastic coverings (from row-cover sheeting or tunnels to cones to recycled milk jugs to “water wall” wraps) to maintain a plant and its immediate soil good and warm.

    You can even produce some veggies during the winter. In light  climates, you can have kale, carrots, leeks, and root vegetables all winter long. Although, you may have to mulch them and then poke beneath to harvest. You can even plant salad greens in October and gather extra early in spring.