When To Plant What Vegetables: The Best Time To Plant Your Garden

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When to plant what vegetables- The best time to plant your garden


When To Plant What Vegetables In Your Garden At The Right Time

If you’ve ever found yourself staring at that box of seed packets you so excitedly ordered and wondering, “when do I plant these things?”  Then you’re in the right place. This post is a resource you can reference again and again throughout the season to know when to plant what vegetables in your garden.

Knowing when to plant different vegetables in the garden can be tricky. Some vegetables, like lettuce and other greens, like cooler weather. They will withstand quite cool temps, and even thrive in them, with just a little protection from snow and ice. And then some vegetables, like tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers like it hot. If you plant them too early they will just sit there and sulk, or worse yet, die from frost.

So when do you plant stuff?… I’m here to tell ya!

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Get your Free Garden Planting Planning Chart!

THE tool for you to organize your planting and succession planting in one place so you can see all your plans at a glance… Let your brain rest a bit 🙂




When To Plant What Vegetables In Your Garden Depends On The Purpose Of Your Garden


My Grandfather planted his whole garden the second week in May. Lettuce, tomatoes, squash, green beans… It all got planted that week, usually in one weekend. He planted a huge garden. He and my grandmother harvested it, ate from it, and preserved copious amounts of food for the winter then “put it to bed” in the fall, right before the first frost. This worked for him, and continues to work for many, many people.

However, if you’ve ever stood in the produce aisle of the grocery store staring at a wilty, wimpy head of lettuce with a $4 price tag, you might want to re-think that strategy.

Growing to eat as many fresh vegetables as long as possible

There are lots of plants that actually prefer cooler weather. Working with these natural preferences can actually make preserving food less work for you.

If you have a great supply of lettuce and greens, radish, carrots, and green onion in the colder months then the amount of green beans you need to freeze or can is reduced. Fall planted lettuce is super easy to take care of …

Not to mention the phenomenal crispness you get in the colder weather.

Succession planting and season extension are the way to go

So if your intent is to grow as much as you can in a few months, then eat preserved food for the other 7-8 months, then planting it all in May is the option you are going for. However, if your intent is to:

» eat as much fresh food as possible for as long as possible.

» reduce your time spent preserving food

» cut the cost of preserving food

» work less

Then you should look into practices that include succession planting and season extension. It is quite possible in most parts of the continental U.S. to start planting as early as the end of February and continue clear into the first of October.

So then, When you plant what veggies depends heavily on what your intention is for harvesting and preserving.



When to plant what vegetables- The best time to plant your garden



When To Plant What Different Vegetables Depends On Your Gardening Zone


Gardening zones are areas divided up according to how cold it typically gets in that area as well as when it normally frosts for the last time and the first time. This information gives you generalities about when its best to plant what in your area.

You will see often in this guide, as well as many other gardening resources, references to first and last frost dates. Since plants that like it warm can’t survive a frost, it’s important to plant them after a date when there is no chance of frost, or be prepared to protect them. Once you know your gardening zone, you will easily be able to tell when your average first and last frost will be.

Which gardening zone you are in will also play a role in how early you can plant cool weather crops. As well as how late you can plant them in the fall.

We will be referring to the first and the last frost often throughout this guide. For a better understanding of this, go over to Planning a Garden that is Productive All Year: An Overview Of Garden Tasks

Find your first and last frost dates here.



The Best Time To Plant Vegetable In Your Garden Depends On That Plant’s Likes And Dislikes

…and sometimes even variety


When to plant what vegetables? That depends on each plant’s tastes. The bulk of this post deals with exactly that. Each vegetable, or groups of vegetables, is discussed according to their cold or heat tolerance. You will find out when to plant each vegetable according to your first, or last frost date. Depending on if we are talking about spring or fall planting. Some vegetables (particularly ones that do well in cooler weather) can be planted early in the spring, then again in the fall to take advantage of those season’s cooler weather.

Also worth mentioning is that some varieties can withstand cooler or warmer temps than their contemporaries. For instance, you can find lettuce that can withstand even colder temperatures as well as lettuce that is happier in warmer weather than most and will do well later in the season. Another example would be tomato varieties that can grow in cooler weather than normal. So if you are looking to extend your growing season, or live in a climate with short growing seasons these are well worth looking into.

A good place to find varieties of your favorite vegetables is Seeds for Generations. I love supporting small, family-owned businesses like this and they are top-notch with customer service and seed quality.


Seeds for Generations is a family owned, quality seed company


Another reason I love this seed company is the crazy amount of free training, education, and resources they provide. You can check out their free garden planting calculator now where you just plug in your last frost date and it comes out with all your planting times. Super simple and convenient.



When To Plant What Vegetable In Your Garden


When To Plant Onions…

Onions like cooler weather. They can be planted to eat young (green onions) or mature bulbs.  Storage onions can take as long as 120 days to fully mature.

  • should be started indoors 9-12 weeks before the estimated time of your last frost
  • you may direct seed them into the garden 4-8 weeks before your last frost, this works best if they are at least sown in a little warmer weather, to help them germinate better
  • they take 13 days at 50°F and 5 days at 68°F, to give you an idea of what the weather should look like for the quickest sprouting possibilities
  • buying sets to transplant is another possibility, those go in the ground 3-8 weeks before the last frost.  You will plant out your own seedlings at this time.
  • may direct seed, or plant sets for that matter, up until the last of may.  planting these in succession, 2 weeks apart will give you continuous green onions, while reserving a plot for maturing, storage onions.  You can then start planting them out again 10 weeks before your last frost, and stopping 4 weeks before that last frost. These latter plantings can be pulled before a hard freeze, or covered to enjoy all winter long!


When To Plant Peas…

Sugar peas, snow peas, peas, snap peas. . . these love the cool to mild weather of spring and fall. They take about 60 days to start producing.

  • Direct sow these into the garden approximately 8 weeks before the last frost
  • these do not like to be transplanted
  • Direct sow again 8-10 weeks before your first frost.  They really hate the heat, so you may have to adjust the planting time accordingly if you are having a hot spell.  I haven’t had luck with fall planted snow peas so far . . . but I keep trying!


When To Plant Greens…

I’m lumping dark green leafy stuff altogether here, along with lettuce. We’re talking kale, spinach, chard, bok choy, arugala, etc.  I plant them all at about the same time, some you will want to put in a succession planting routine, and some you can plant once in the spring, and then again in the fall, and pick from them over several weeks again and again.

  • Direct seed them 8-10 weeks before the last frost is predicted.
  • Some you may want to start indoors and transplant, but it is not necessary.  They all like cooler weather (mostly.  there are a few greens that love warmer weather, as we will discuss later on)
  • You can start sowing these again beginning 8-10 weeks before your first frost.
  • Choose a time when there is a break in the temperatures.  There are times when I sow these as far as 12 weeks before the first frost because the weather is unseasonably cool and it will give them a good start.
  • Plant in succession up to 4 weeks before the first frost.
  • These last plantings can be covered when it freezes and harvested all winter long!
  • here is a complete guide to Planting Spinach

when to plant what vegetables -The best time to plant your garden. Ways to plant lettuce to increase yeilds



When To Plant Asparagus…

Asparagus is planted from starts, or crowns, taken from an established plant. You can obtain these from a farmer’s market, a garden center, or a friend!

  • Plant out 8 weeks before your last frost



When To Plant Root Vegetables…

I use the term loosely.  I am speaking of cool-season root vegetables.  Turnips, beets, radishes, daikon, carrots, kohlrabi (even though this isn’t a root). . . these can all be planted in succession also, so you have just enough to eat at a time.  In the fall they can be planted in succession, then 6 weeks before the first frost, plant enough for a winters supply to cover from freezing temps, to eat on all winter.  Of course, you can pull them and store them in a cool place to eat all winter- it’s up to you!

  • Direct sow these crops 8 weeks before your last frost
  • plant in succession up until 2 weeks after your last frost date
  • start direct sowing them again 10-12 weeks before your first frost date
  • sow the last planting 4 weeks before your first frost date
  • Parsnips are a little different.  The best method is to direct sow them 4 weeks before your last frost.  They take a very long time, and they are best when harvested after a frost or two  (you can plant them up to 120 days before your first frost, however, they take a long time to germinate, and they must be kept cool and wet during this time)


When to plant what vegetables- The best time to plant your garden



When To Plant Potatoes…

Potatoes like cooler weather, also. These are planted, not from seed, but using potatoes from the year before that have started to sprout.  Thus they are called “seed potatoes”  you can purchase these at any gardening center, or online. Or, from potatoes in your bin that have sprouted! You may plant the whole potato, or cut it into 3-4 pieces, making sure each piece contains an “eye” or sprout.

  • Plant 4-6 weeks before your last frost.


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When To Plant Brassicas…

Here, for our purposes,  we are referring to broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts. . . These like cool temps, but not cold, they really don’t like to be exposed to temps under 50°.  I find these tricky in MO, where I live, because our spring temps swing up and down so wildly.  The length of time to harvest for brassicas varies widely, some taking 75 days, others can take up to 120 days! If you live in an area with short springs and falls and a lot of heat in between, start with varieties that are quicker to produce. You can plant these out spring and fall.

  • start them indoors 8 weeks before your last frost date
  • transplant them into the garden 4 weeks before your last frost date (or purchase plants from a nursery to transplant)
  •  start them indoors 10-14 weeks before your first frost date
  • transplant them into the garden 8-12 weeks before your first frost. Again, they need cooler temps, so if there is a cool spell 12 weeks before your first frost date, plant them out.  If it’s like Hades out there, wait a bit.
  • alternately, buy seedlings from a nursery and plant them out at the proper times.


When To Plant Tomatoes…

Tomatoes need a long growing season.  You should start them indoors in all but the warmest gardening zones.

  • Start them indoors, 6-10 weeks before your last frost.
  • Transplant them into the garden after all threat of frost has passed
  • If it is warm, and you can’t wait, go ahead and plant them out.  Be prepared to cover them with plastic if a frost is threatening
  • If you get a late start, you can plant them out as late as 18 weeks before your first frost. As a last resort.
  • They can be direct seeded 2 weeks before your last frost date if you are in a zone that gets at least 25 weeks of frost-free weather. You just won’t get as large of a harvest this way, because the frost will come while the tomatoes are still bearing well. . . but if you need to. . .
  • Of coarse, you can buy seedlings at your local nursery or farmers market and transplant them out after the last frost
  • For info on transplanting tomatoes see How to Transplant a Tomato; and other life lessons


When to plant what vegetables -The best time to plant your garden



When To Plant Peppers…

Peppers also need a long growing season.  They take a tad longer than tomatoes to start indoors.

  • Start indoors 8-10 weeks before the last frost of spring
  • Buy transplants and set into your garden after the last frost
  • Transplant into the garden after all threat of frost has passed


When to plant what vegetables- The best time to plant your garden


When To Plant Eggplant…

Eggplant is another warm loving plant. Growing them is much the same as peppers and tomatoes.

  • Start from seeds indoors 6-10 weeks before your last frost date.
  • Plant out into the garden after the last frost. If you’ve bought seedlings, plant them out now, also.


When To Plant Beans…

Beans are a heat-loving vegetable

  • direct seed into the garden 2 weeks before the last frost
  • succession plant all summer long, up to 10 weeks before the first frost


When To Plant Corn…

Corn likes warm weather.

  • Direct seed corn into the garden after the last frost.


When To Plant Cucumbers…

Cucumbers like heat, although they can benefit from some shade in the hottest of weather.

  • Direct seed into the garden after all threat of frost has passed


companion planting for pest control



When To Plant Squash and Pumpkins…

Squash love heat, both summer and winter squash


When to plant what vegetables- The best time to plant your garden

When To Plant Melon…

Melon and watermelon like warm weather.

  • Direct seed into the garden after all threat of frost has passed


When To Plant Okra…

Okra does not like cold. it is a southern vegetable and thrives in the heat.

  • Direct seed in the garden after your last frost


When To Plant Rutabaga…

Rutabaga is a long season vegetable.

  • Direct seed in the garden 12-14 weeks before the first frost
  • Best harvested after a frost


When to plant what vegetables- The best time to plant your garden


When To Plant Sweet Potato…

Sweet potatoes like it warm! Plant from “slips” – little sprouts that have grown from the “eyes” of a plant from the previous season.

  • Plant your slips when it is nice and warm, a few weeks after your last frost date.


There you have it! Now you can start a plan for when to plant what varieties you’d like to grow. And don’t forget to plan for succession plantings of those vegetables that you’d like a smaller amount of on a more consistent basis!


More Resources for When to plant what vegetables


Get your Free Planting Planning Chart


THE tool for you to organize your planting and succession planting in one place so you can see all your plans at a glance… Let your brain rest a bit 🙂


Go to  Seeds For Generations  now and start planning 🙂

And while your planning… don’t you just love this gathering basket. Gotta plan for the harvest!


vegetable carrier for your garden harvest


Are there any vegetables you like to plant that weren’t listed here? I’d love to hear from you.


A great way to generate enthusiasm for gardening with kids is to let them have their own little garden space. This post is a fun way to teach them to plan and get some excitement going for the coming season!

A fun activity to get your kids excited about gardening and teach them planning skills




If you are racking your brain to try to get the most out of your existing garden space, you will find a few ideas here:


getting more out of your garden space with companion planting and succession planting







  1. Great info. I pay attention to weather and frost dates. I group my seeds together by when I should plant them and read info in seed catalogs/packages.

  2. I use my tomato cages as a holding rack for tools, especially clippers, and keep some S hooks on them for the hanging ones so that I don’t leave the tools on the ground (hate finding my fav all rusty a few days later. I bring them out in my basket.

  3. I wish I had found the Your guide 2 years ago – but it is still a learning process. Thanks for all the details. I planted Peas apparently too late (or Mother Nature adjusted life with a very unusual early snow). They still look ok – but I think I will try eating the greens while they are young and before they die.

    Any tips on when to plant Kohlrabi? I treated it the same as Turnips. But this may be too late.

    • It is ALWAYS a learning process! I find fall-planted peas hard to judge here in Missouri, too. We never know when the weather will be cool enough for them! They should be able to take some snow. I hard freeze will kill them, though.You can always throw a sheet over your frost tender plants (with support under it so it won’t crush the plants) when the weather takes an unexpected temporary dip in temps…good luck 🙂

  4. I say find someone in your location to act as a mentor. When we first moved to NH, we were close to the coast. We have since moved more inland and it is different as far as growing goes. Even though it is still in the 5a growing area, it is still different. We get more snow, its warmer in the summer. My first year gardening up here was a lot of learning even though growing veggies was not new to me.

  5. Great post..thank you!! My only tip I know is making a greenhouse out of a clear tote and planting lettuce in the fall.

  6. Pingback: No-till garden; 7 easy methods that will give you magnificent results. Easy, quick, and cheap no-till gardening techniques

  7. Ahhh I always get so overwhelmed by the thought of what to plant and when! This post was a great guide to start, I am saving it in my favorites! Thanks!

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