Spring Planting Timeline For The Vegetable Garden
Winter can be long and dreary, a great time to spend planning your spring vegetable garden. Each year we seem to add new vegetables to our repertoire which means researching to determine when to plant and harvest these newcombers. Spring planting becomes much easier when you have a rough planting schedule or guideline. Another advantage of having a schedule is that you will be able to use your garden space more efficiently. Planning for repeat crops throughout the season ensures a constant and varied supply of fresh produce throughout the summer.
Sow Indoors For Starter Plants
Onions - seeds can be started as early as 10-12 weeks before the last frost. Seeds can also be directly sown in the ground as soon as the soil can be worked.
Kohlrabi/Cabbage/Broccoli/Cauliflower - sow seeds indoors 8-10 weeks prior to transplanting. Transplant early after risk of frost or any time during the season.
Tomatoes/Peppers - sow seeds indoors 8-10 weeks prior to transplanting.
Cucumbers/Squash - sow indoors 3-4 weeks prior to last frost. Can also be direct sown after risk of frost. Be aware nightshades resent having their roots disturbed so consider that when sowing indoors. Use individual pots that will plant will easily pop out of without disturbing roots or plant in biodegradeable pots than can be gently scored and planted directly in the garden.
Basil - annual herbs can be sown indoors 4-6 weeks prior to transplanting.
Other -- any of the early season crops can also be started indoors 2-4 weeks prior to transplanting outdoors including beets, pak choi, lettuce and spinach.
Direct Sow Early Season (Cool Season) Crops
Radishes - Sow seeds in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Stagger several plantings 7 to 10 days apart. Plant several fall sowings again starting in late summer (August).
Peas - Sow seeds in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked as they will tolerate a light frost. Plant a second sowing two weeks later. Plant fall crop beginning in early August.
Beets - Sow seeds in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Beets have their best germination when the soil temperature reaches 80F but you can plant when the soil temperature reaches 45F and the air temperature is between 50 and 65F since beets can withstand some freezing temperature. As they are poor to germinate in cooler soils, seed heavier in your first planting. Thin after they sprout. If desired, sow succession planting every 2-3 weeks until early summer. Plant a fall crop starting in late summer (August).
Pak (Bok) Choi - Sow seeds in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked as the seedlings will withstand frost and light freezes. Plant second row 2-3 weeks later and plant fall crop beginning in late summer.
Lettuces - Sow seeds in early spring but cover to protect from frost. Harvest mesclun mix type lettuce when 3-4 inches tall. Cut lettuce will resprout until it bolts when it becomes too hot. Start fall planting in late August.
Spinach - Sow seeds early but cover to protect from frost. Spinach is best cut when leaves are young but can be left longer. Cut spinach will regrow but best to plant successive plantings as long as there is time to grow before heat sets in. Start fall crop(s) when the ground cools (late August to early September).
Carrots - Seed early and stagger plantings every two weeks up until early August. We have also successfully left carrots in the ground and dug them up in the winter months during a thaw.
Potatoes - Plant in early spring, potatoes are tolerant of cold soil & light frost and need a long growing season. Hill plantings after they are about 1 foot tall.
Direct Sow Late Spring (Warm Season) Crops
Some plants need heat to germinate and grow. These plants should be sown in the ground well after the risk of frost.
Beans - While the last frost date in our area is May 11, we do not usually sow beans until late-May in our Zone 5 garden (typically the May 24 weekend). Earlier plantings may sprout but are set back by cold and do not really produce beans any earlier than seeds sown two weeks later. Plant a second and third planting spaced 3 to 4 weeks apart.
Tomatoes/Peppers - transplant well after risk of frost. Again cold weather will set back plants so there is no point in putting them out too early unless you provide protection from the cold.
Summer Squash/Cucumbers - seed after risk of frost. Summer squash will produce until frost if picked often.
Winter Squash/Pumpkins - seed after risk of frost.
Fall Season Planting
As noted above, cool season crops can be direct sown in the garden for a fall crop. This includes radishes, lettuces, spinach and peas.