Gardening is such a fun and rewarding hobby, one that is so very healthy both physically and mentally…plus offers healthy, delicious fruits, vegetables, herbs, and other goodies. If you’re new to gardening, the process can seem a bit overwhelming at first. If that’s you, start small. Pick a couple favorite foods you’d like to grow and start there; especially if it’s the easier things like radishes, cucumbers, peas, root vegetables, and greens like lettuce and spinach. But the most common question new gardeners will ask me is what to plant and when to plant it.
If you have the same question, the best thing to do after you’ve put together your garden plan and know WHAT you are planting, you need to decide WHEN you should plant each item. First rule of thumb in setting up your planting guide is to know your planting Zone. Zones are set up according to average first and last frost dates. Every year is different on the actual first and last frost date, and Mother Nature always has the last word, but at least we can anticipate a ballpark time-frame and plan accordingly. Your zone will give you a baseline on when to start seed or direct sow the various plants for your area. Some plants like cooler weather and need to be planted before the last frost, some are heat loving and therefore won’t do well until after last frost. Here is a basic guideline that I use for my area (zone 6):
- Plan Garden, Order Seeds,
- Harvest Jerusalem Artichokes,
- Grow Microgreens Indoors
- Start Sweet Potato Slips,
- Start Seedlings indoors for pepper, tomato, tomatillo, artichoke, eggplant, celery
- Plant Potatoes on or around St. Patrick’s Day,
- Separate and Transplant: Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries
- Prune Grape Vines, Goji Bushes, and Fruit Trees
- Plant Onion and Leek Sets
- Direct Sow: Kale, Peas, Radish, Lettuce, Spinach,
- Direct Sow after last frost (mid-month): cucumber, summer squash, beets, celeriac, turnips, green beans, pumpkin, carrots, any cole crops, herbs, melons
- Transplant seedling starts for: tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, tomatillo, artichoke, celery
- Direct Sow: okra, corn, winter squash
- Plant Sweet Potato starts
You can move this list up or back depending on your zone, but it offers a basic guideline to hopefully help you get started. Most states have great resources online at their Extension Office website or check with local seasoned gardeners for their recommendations. When in doubt, give it a try. The beauty of gardening is that it is different every year and the plants are, for the most part, pretty forgiving on your learning curve. The worst that can happen is you’re out a few dollars on seeds.
If you haven’t ordered your seeds yet, check out our resources section for easy links to seed companies we recommend like White Harvest Seed Company. Happy Gardening!