When To Plant Seeds For Your Vegetable Garden
Timing is everything when it comes to planting vegetable seeds. Follow our planting schedule to get the most out of your vegetable garden.
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Timing is everything, especially when it comes to planting seeds for your vegetable garden. One critical part of home gardening is knowing which crops you can direct seed into the garden, when to do it, and which crops should only be started indoors before transplanting to the garden.
Different crops vary considerably in tolerance of cold, frost, and heat. This makes knowing when to plant essential to having a successful garden. We’ve rounded up all the information you need to get your plants and seeds in the ground at the right time for a productive growing season.
Some crops can be direct seeded in early spring, while others should not be planted until up to six weeks later. Still others do best when started indoors and transplanted to the garden after several weeks. To make it easy, we’ve divided crops up accordingly. The best way to find out your average last frost date is from a local garden center. OR search by zip code.
VERY EARLY CROPS
These crops can handle cold temperatures (mid to low 20s), frost, and snow, although it never hurts to protect them with row covers if cold weather is expected. Sow seeds for these crops 6 weeks before your last frost (or as soon as soil can be worked):
- Onions (sets or dormant plants; or start seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before last frost)
These crops can handle moderately cold temperatures (upper 20s or possibly lower), some frost and snow. We recommend planting seeds for these crops directly in the garden 4 weeks before last frost, but if you can protect them with row covers, they can be planted as early as 6 weeks before last frost.
- Asian greens (e.g. tatsoi, bok choy, etc.)
These crops do not tolerate even light frost and cold temperatures may stunt their development. We recommend waiting until after the last frost date to sow seeds for these crops. If spring weather is unseasonably cool, wait until the weather warms up.
- Squash and pumpkin
- Most annual herbs (best to start indoors)
PLANTS BEST STARTED INDOORS AND TRANSFERRED TO GARDEN 4 WEEKS BEFORE LAST FROST
These crops can tolerate cold, but require a long growing season. They do best if started indoors 6-10 weeks before last frost. Broccoli can also be direct seeded into the garden in June for a fall harvest.
PLANTS BEST STARTED INDOORS AND TRANSFERRED TO GARDEN AFTER ALL DANGER OF FROST HAS PAST
These crops require a long growing season, but cannot tolerate even a light frost if left unprotected. If you have a short growing season or just want earlier fruit, take a look at our post describing how we get our tomatoes in the ground several weeks before last frost.