Are you thinking about planting a garden? Have you successfully grown a few vegetables and now want to move on to bigger and better things? Well, hold up. You can’t just go planting whatever you want whenever you want. There are rules in place, the rules of Mother Nature. She doesn’t want potatoes in February or basil in September.
That’s why today, I would like to share with you everything you need to know if you want to plant your vegetable garden.
Best Dates To Plant a Garden
Everything you wish to plant has a window of perfect planting time. Most veggies and herbs are better when they start indoors. So how do you know what’s what and when to do it? Look no further we’ve got you covered with this nifty little gardening infographic that lays out exactly what you can plant and when to do it. Gardening has never been so easy!
When to Plant Vegetable Gardens and What to Keep in Mind
A lot of people mistake gardening as an all-year thing. While that’s true to an extent, keep in mind that some plants are annuals, some perennials, and some biennials.
To give you a brief overview, annual plants die after completing one cycle (seed, flower, seed) every year. Perennials are hardy plants that bloom only during their specific blooming seasons, and biennials are plants that complete one life cycle in two years before dying.
Here are a few crucial things to keep in mind:
We tend not to think much about our gardens during the cold season, as most of its functionality lays dormant under hard soil. When thinking about when to plant a garden or when to plant vegetables during the cold season, it all comes down to which seeds and temperatures you are dealing with.
One of the most important things to remember is to avoid stepping on any dry turf, as the crown of the plants underneath can be demolished by doing so. If you have heavy thoroughfare across a lawn during the cold season, when springtime arrives, the plant life in that soil will be weakened or nonexistent.
During the later weeks of the cold season, several “cool season” crops can be planted at temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit and are considered to be early spring vegetables. Broccoli and lettuce are perfect examples of cool-season crops. Also, when venturing around your garden, if you notice any soil has become dry due to lack of rainfall, be sure to add some water to any newly planted seeds, trees, or shrubs, as they will thank you for the sustenance.
There is also a list of plants that you can clip or prune during the cold season so that they can flourish nicely once it gets warm again. Cold season crops can also be sown directly into the soil, and nature will take care of all the work to germinate the seeds. If you want to start your cold season plants as transplants inside your home, you will want to start the process about five to six weeks before spring (somewhere during mid-March).
During the warm season, your gardening activities will be plentiful and should always be a joyous time of the year. Knowing when to plant vegetable seeds or when to plant vegetable gardens is crucial. However, the best advice when it comes to gardening is to not “set it and forget it”. It means you must take the time to tend to your garden every day, as your shadow is the best blessing you can give your plants and vegetables.
Generally, you want to plant your seeds when the nighttime temperature is above 60 degrees. Typically, this happens around April or May but will depend on wherever you are currently residing. After you find the ideal location that gives about six to eight hours of sunlight to the soil every day, be sure to fertilize and water accordingly. You can also start seeding plants and vegetables indoors and transplant them to the outside soil once the air and soil are warmer.
Warm-season crops can also be sown directly into the soil, but again, you will have to wait until the soil is warm enough. Typically, mid-April is a perfect time to plant your seeds, and as the saying goes: “you have to pay your taxes before you can play in the garden!” Be careful to monitor your forecasts as well. Since warm-season plants are vulnerable to the cold, you want to be aware of any late freezes that may come through at the end of the cold season. Failure to do so can result in your seeds being ruined due to a lack of proper preparation.
It’s one thing to know when to plant seeds, but the concept of where to plant your garden is a separate issue. First and foremost, it is of utmost importance to follow the sun! Making sure the soil you are planting will get six to eight hours of sunlight per day is crucial to growing your plants.
Next is to make sure that the area you are planting your seeds can receive water. Whether it is an automatic sprinkler/irrigation system or a manual hose operation, make certain the seeds are in an optimal location. You also need to find a location that is rich in nutrients, and flat ground is typically the key when choosing the best spot. If you plant on a slanted plane or in an area that is not well tended to, you run the risk of having your seeds washed away or drowned.
A lesser-known factor that is just as important is that your garden or crop space needs to be in a spot with plenty of circulation and airflow. Cool air will bring relief during the hotter days, and plenty of space gives each plant its circumference to grow in. Not cramping or cluttering the seeds together is another great piece of advice for the aspiring gardener. It brings us to our next topic…
Having the right plot size is extremely important, depending on how many plants or vegetables you are planning to grow. Giving each seed/plant its own space will allow it to flourish in beautiful ways. Square foot gardening is a raised bed system that always has a grid that divides it into square feet, so there will be 16 square foot sections to work with.
Generally speaking, you can start with a 4×4 plot with a 12-inch raised bed or a 4×6 plot with a 10-inch raised bed. Be sure to separate each section with twine or similar material to give each seed/plant its own space. It allows even the smallest backyards to have several plant life, and you don’t have to own much more than a shovel and watering can to start your gardening journey.
It is the moment you realize that knowing when to plant a garden was the easy part of this process. Some plants need more care and upkeep than others and knowing what size plots you can handle is also a factor to be considered.
As much as we would like to believe our memories are spot on, it is in your best interest to invest in a few planning tools for your garden. Some of the most used planning tools consist of things like a monthly checklist and calendars for you to keep track of your garden’s progression, as well as all the intimate details of its soil and chemical compounds. Also, a spreadsheet of your thoughts is a handy planning tool, as it allows you to recollect on the most recent moments in your garden and can help you remember important in-the-moment information.
The term “hardy” refers to a plant’s ability to survive year-round in a certain climate – even through the winter months. Hardy plants can withstand a crop freeze or cold snap and will be eager to thrive once the weather is warmer. Some forms of hardy vegetables include onions, broccoli, kale, and cabbage.
Alternatively, “tender” refers to plants or vegetables that are severely threatened by the cold of winter and must have some form of protection once the weather becomes cold. Some tender vegetables include eggplant, pumpkin, tomato, and okra.
An easier way to know the difference between a hardy and a tender crop is that hardy crops are typically planted for their leaves and roots (i.e., spinach or beets), and tender crops are typically planted for their fruit. Hardy plants are also considered to be cool-season crops and tender as warm-season crops.
If you want to know when to plant a garden and when to plant vegetable seeds, the above infographic should help set you up. As with anything and anyone, as long as you follow Mother Nature’s rules and respect her boundaries, you’d reap what you sow (no pun intended!) in no time. The secret lies in knowing when to plant a vegetable garden to see the fruits of your labor.