Regional Vegetable Gardening Calendar

Use these seasonal tips to get the most from your vegetable garden.


Advice for Cool Climates

Spring

  • Start seeds for warm-season vegetables indoors under fluorescent lights about 8 to 10 weeks prior to the date you expect the last frost.
  • Build raised beds for intensive and succession planting. Cover the beds with black plastic sheeting to warm up the soil.
  • Set up a soaker-hose or drip-irrigation system for beds to supply low-maintenance watering.
  • Plant seedlings outdoors for cool-weather crops such as broccoli, cabbage, lettuce spinach, radish, and peas.
  • Perform needed maintenance on permanent trellises used for growing crops vertically.
  • Harden off warm-season seedlings raised indoors to prepare them for transplanting into the garden.

Summer

  • Harvest cool-weather crops such as peas. When the harvest slows markedly, pull out the vines and plant a summer crop.
  • Cover berries and peas with netting to protect the crops from birds or animal pests.
  • Plan to extend the gardening season into fall. Start seeds for cool-weather crops indoors or in a nursery bed outside about three months prior to the expected first frost.
  • Water when rainfall is sparse. Most plants need about 1 inch of water per week.
  • Remove black plastic mulch or cover it with organic mulch. Cover soil with organic material such as compost to moderate temperature and retain moisture.
  • Monitor plants for insect problems and begin controls immediately.
  • Stimulate production of squash, beans, cucumbers, eggplants, and other by picking them when they are young.

Fall

  • Keep polyspun garden fabric (row covers) handy to cover summer crops such as beans and peppers if an early light frost threatens.
  • Harvest crops such as pumpkins, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and onions. Brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, and other root crops can stay in the ground through light frosts.
  • Clean up plant debris in harvested beds. Mulch empty beds to protect the soil over winter.
  • Tend fall crops such as broccoli, cabbage, spinach, and onions until they're mature and ready for harvest.
  • Harvest green tomatoes and store them indoors if a frost is predicted.
  • Build more boxed raised beds. Repair trellises. Clean out cold frames.

Advice for Warm Climates

Mulches are critical to preventing moisture loss in warm climates.

Spring

  • When danger of frost is past, set out warm-weather plants such as tomatoes and peppers. Sow seeds for squash, beans, corn, and melons.
  • Mulch beds with organic matter to discourage weeds and keep the soil from warming too much and too soon.
  • Use shade cloth or polyspun row cover fabric to protect young transplants from strong sun.
  • Harvest cool-weather crops, such as lettuce and broccoli, before hot weather causes them to bolt and set seed.

Summer

  • Water when rainfall is sparse. Most plants need about 1 inch of water per week. Tomatoes like even more moisture.
  • Mulch all bare soil in the garden to prevent evaporation of moisture and to discourage weeds. Renew the layer when it decomposes.
  • Monitor plants for insect problems and begin controls immediately.
  • Plant succession crops of beans, carrots, and corn as you harvest earlier crops.
  • Erect shade cloths over plants to shield them from the afternoon sun, even if they're sun-loving varieties; most benefit from some shade in the hottest months.

Fall

  • Renew beds for fall planting by adding more organic material such as compost and rotted manure.
  • Sow carrots, beets, and other root crops as well as lettuce for fall harvest.
  • Set out cole crop transplants such as cauliflower, Chinese greens, cabbage, broccoli, and mustard. Shade them if the days are still warm.
  • Clean up plant debris in harvested beds. Mulch to protect the soil over the winter.
  • Build more boxed raised beds. Repair trellises.

Winter

  • Look through mail-order and seed catalogs in time to start cool-weather crops indoors.
  • Continue to enjoy lettuce and Chinese greens by protecting them in a cold frame or with polyspun row cover fabric, or a plastic tunnel.
  • Get out seed-starting equipment and order peat pots and other supplies.
  • Plant peas.
  • Build new compost bins or repair old ones. Turn and consolidate compost piles to prepare for the new season.
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