If you have a plot of empty land, it’s time to fill it. How about planting a vegetable garden!
Starting your own vegetable garden is a hardy task and it requires much care to get a steady harvest. But first things first, when should you start your veggie garden? Below is everything you’ll need to ensure the project goes off without a hitch!
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, this guide has got you covered with nifty little gardening infographic that lays out exactly what you can plant and when to do it!
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, or biennials.
To give you a brief overview, here are a few crucial things to keep in mind:
People tend not to think much about their gardens during the cold season, as most of it lays dormant under hard soil or snow. When it comes to planting a garden or vegetables during the cold season, it all comes down to which seeds and temperatures you’re 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. This is why it’s best to start gardening in an area with little to no foot traffic.
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.
Cold season crops can also be sown directly into the soil while nature works to germinate the seeds. If you want to start your cold season plants as transplants inside your home, you want to start the process five to six weeks before spring (somewhere during mid-March).
Pro Tip: 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. Your green friends will thank you!
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.” This means you must take the time to tend to your garden every day, don’t plant something and then forget about it leaving them to fend for themselves.
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. This is why it’s best to know your USDA hardiness zone.
After you find the ideal location that receives about six to eight hours of sunlight every day, be sure to fertilize and water accordingly. You can also start seeding plants and vegetables indoors and transplant them outside 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 plenty of air circulation. 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.
Pro Tip: If you have mobility issues, turn to raised garden beds for help!
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.
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 of each vegetable with twine or similar material. This will give each seed/plant its own space.
This is the moment many gardeners realize 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 you would like to believe your memory is spot on, it’s in your best interest to invest in a few tools for your garden. Some of the most used planning tools consist of things like a monthly checklist and calendars. Here you to keep track of your garden’s progression, as well as all the intimate details of its soil and chemical compounds.
Not to mention, a spreadsheet of your thoughts is a handy planning tool. This allows you to recollect on the most recent moments in your garden. It will also help you remember important in-the-moment information such as pest problems or environmental weather conditions.
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). Tender crops are planted for their fruit. Hardy plants are also considered to be cool-season crops and tender as warm-season crops.
Get Those Veggies!
Planting a vegetable garden is incredibly rewarding and hopefully, now you see just how the process works. From knowing when to plant certain crops to caring for them afterwards, you’ll be sure to reap the benefits of your first harvest!
Have any comments or questions? Be sure to share them below, as well as your vegetable gardening experiences.