When’s the best time to plant a vegetable garden? Those who really love the fresh taste of home-grown veggies may be tempted to say always. Unfortunately, there are only a few places in the world with ideal year-round conditions for growing vegetables. The rest of us will likely have to pick our planting times carefully, based on where we live.
Even if you don’t live in a place warm enough to grow your own veggies year-round, if you pick the right time to start, you will be rewarded with a bounteous crop. Canning or freeze the excess veggies can carry you through the winter season.
No matter where you live, the best time to start a vegetable garden is when there is no danger of frost. This varies from year to year, from plant variety to plant variety and from climate zone to climate zone. You also can use row covers to protect your young plants, allowing you to start planting a month or so earlier. It’s essential to plan with reference books and websites with reliable information about seeds, plants, soil, and drip irrigation. These resources will lead you to success.
In warmer regions, you can start certain vegetables in the fall and winter. Garlic can be planted as early as September and harvested the following June, giving you plenty of healthy and nutritious garlic for an entire year. You can separate out the biggest and best heads from your harvest for replanting the following fall to keep the cycle going.
Many onion varieties can be planted in the fall and harvested seven or eight months later at the beginning of May. You can then use the same garden bed to plant warm-weather crops that need greater sun exposure and hotter weather.
Peas, especially sugar snap peas, tend to like cooler weather and can take a light frost, making this vegetable likely for success during less favorable weather.
In milder areas, potatoes can be grown in late winter. They take about three months to mature and can be harvested in late May, freeing up the planting bed for another crop.
With the use of lightweight frost protection fabric, some lettuces will do well if planted toward the end of the summer season and harvested eight to 10 weeks later. Spinach is a good crop to try during the late summer and early fall, as well as beets, carrots, and broccoli.
Make a list of all the veggies you intend to plant and organize them into categories from the ones most cold hardy to the ones that need the heat of summer to maximize their production. Some vegetables, like onions and garlic, can withstand long, cold winters. Swiss chard, kale, arugula, and spinach are also cold-hardy and can be started late in winter with just a single layer of frost protection fabric covering them. Fabric covers also prolong your growing season, while increasing your yield, as you protect crops from frost, wind, and insects. This same material can also be used in the fall to lengthen the growing season for plants like tomatoes and peppers.
Some great sources for vegetable plants and seed that have solid reputations and long-term traditions of producing quality plants and excellent customer service are:
- Baker Creek Seed Company
- High Mowing Seed
- Peaceful Valley Seed Co.
- Territorial Seed Company
- Seed Savers Exchange
- Johnny’s Selected Seed
Buying local is ideal if you have a seed source, like a nearby nursery or farm. Seeds from locally grown plants have had time to adapt to your region’s weather conditions. The next generations of plants grown from their seed will be even better suited to your area.
Microbes occur naturally in all soil but adding microbes can aid your plants’ ability to draw up nutrients from the soil. If you grow organically and add compost to your soil each year, there will be microbes present. Because many soils become depleted of microbes over time, adding them each year is a good practice and allows plants to get the most from the soil’s nutrients.
These tiny, beneficial organisms will attach to the roots of your plants and help in nutrient and water uptake by converting nutrients into a form that plants can consume. As a result, organic matter and water in your garden bed can be much more effectively used by the plants, resulting in healthier plants and a higher yield. Vital Roots Soluble Mycorrhizal Fungi can enhance your plants’ growth by increasing the number of microorganisms in the soil. With a fertilizer injector, you can easily feed this solution into a drip system while the system is running.
As shown in this blog, there are vegetables that can keep your garden productive most of the year, especially with the right equipment. Don’t overlook winter crops, which require less attention but allow you to grow and enjoy food most of the year.
DripWorks can help you in your effort to extend your growing season so you can enjoy home-grown vegetables most of the year. Check out all the helpful resources and products available on our website. You can also call 1-800-522-3747 to speak to a helpful representative or use our live chat to have your questions answered online.