When to Start Planting a Garden

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Planting a garden does require some attention to the calendar, but can be accomplished at many times of year if you choose your plants carefully. Spring and fall, however, are still the best times to plant many flowers and vegetables. Planting at these times lets plants establish themselves in your garden well before the extreme heat and cold of summer and winter.

Best Times to Plant

  • The best time of year to start planting a garden is dependent on the types of plants you hope to grow. Most plants will do best at times of year when they do not have to deal with extreme temperatures as fragile seedlings. This means that most plants will be happiest starting out in the spring or fall. Spring and fall planting allows the plants to become established in the soil and build a strong root system prior to the heat of summer and freezing cold of winter. Check your local first and last freeze dates--usually provided by your nursery or local extension service--to determine your optimal planting times.

Spring Planting

  • If you choose to begin your garden in spring, you have a great number of options for the types of plants you can choose. You can plant the full variety of flowers, including perennials and such common annual favorites as marigolds, petunias, vinca, begonias. Spring gardeners also can enjoy dividing and replanting bulbs grown in previous years, expanding their gardens to new areas and developing their fullness. For vegetables, spring is the best time to plant tomatoes, summer squash (zucchini, crookneck and other varieties), melons, cucumbers, beans, and peas. All of these veggies will grow well and produce a bountiful harvest over the summer. Monitor overnight temperatures carefully to make sure a late freeze doesn't nip your seedlings and diminish their growth.

Fall Planting

  • Planting in the fall can be tricky, but if your timing is right, it can be as productive as the spring with a whole new range of flowers and vegetables. For a quick refresher of color, you can plant a few new annual flowers in the garden, but expect to lose them when the first freeze comes. Perennials should be planted early in the fall to ensure they're ready to survive freezing weather. Protect them with covers to avoid frost on leaves. Fall vegetable plantings can include winter squash, carrots, kale, swiss chard, beets and other salad greens, especially if some protection is provided from snow and frost. Gardeners with greenhouses can enjoy some summer veggies year-round.

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