A seasonal planting guide assists those who wish to establish a home vegetable garden successfully. Learn what to grow each season on the homestead or in a backyard vegetable garden. This vegetable planting guide assists those who seek to know more about what seeds to start and the best garden planting time based on the growing zone for your location.
The Backyard Vegetable Garden
I am a self-taught gardener. My family did not grow food for sustainable purposes, nor did we keep a garden. As a military family who relocated often my mother maintained a small potted herb garden wherever we were stationed.
A majority of our food came from the commissary or open markets when they were available. We frequented local farms during the summer months, purchasing fresh produce, meat, and eggs.
Oddly enough, I believe this is how my desire to homestead came to be.
Prior to living a sustainable life I maintained a tiny vegetable garden at our suburban home. Growing a measly amount of cherry tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, and zucchini. You know, the easiest items to grow.
Home Vegetable Garden
It wasn’t until we began homesteading in which my desire to own our food source began. I dreamed of a garden which would produce food on a much larger scale than I was use to.
Through countless hours of research and much trial and error, my home vegetable garden improved each year. In true homesteading fashion our backyard vegetable garden also feeds us seasonally, as well as, throughout the year.
Food ownership is the key. But it is not able to start until a garden has been planted.
The ability to preserve the garden’s harvest long-term using various methods of home food preservation is achievable. My book, The Farm Girl’s Guide to Preserving the Harvest, teaches families how to store food using every method of home food preservation.
Garden Planting Time
Unlike large scale farms, a large backyard vegetable garden must rely heavily on succession planting. Succession planting allows one to understand the appropriate garden planting time. Especially for those who garden in shorter growing seasons.
It takes personal strength to utilize this method for growing foods. The practice is one which I still struggle with. It is difficult to pull a plant which is still producing produce in order to plant something new.
However, this method is necessary for those who seek to maximize the yield of a home vegetable garden.
Vegetable Planting Guide
A successful gardener prepares for the next gardening season months in advance. The use of a greenhouse or grow station allows for seeds to germinate quickly.
Prior to ordering seeds make sure to know your hardiness, or growing, zone. Knowing the appropriate growing zone for your location will help determine the best vegetables and fruit to plant in your area.
Determining the growing zone can be found on the National Gardening Association website.
There are vegetables which crossover between the garden planting time. For example, spinach is typically grown in the spring. However, the New Zealand spinach is a heat tolerant variety and does well during the summer months.
A few variety of cool weather seeds are slow bolting or can tolerate the heat of summer. Make sure to look into these varieties to extend the growing season of your favorite spring item.
Seasonal Planting Guide | SPRING
Vegetables planted in the spring are cool weathered items. These particular plants thrive in indirect sunlight or morning sun, and dislike the warmer temperature.
The spring garden consists of leafy greens, root vegetables, peas, and many items from the Brassicaceae family. A few popular items from the Brassicaceae family are cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussel sprouts, and many Asian vegetables, like varieties of bak choy.
Garden Planting Time
When to starting spring seeds will vary. Seeds are often direct sowed 2 weeks after the last frost date. Whereas spring seeds are started as early as February.
The use of seed mats and grow lights assist with seed germination and growth. Greenhouses are excellent for both, starting seeds and hardening off vegetable starts.
A spring garden can be harvested as early as 2 weeks from when the seeds or starts are sown. This early garden thrives for the better part of early summer. Spring perennials will continue to grow until they go to seed.
Also, succession planting requires the spring garden to immediately be pulled a few weeks prior to summer beginning. This will allow room for the summer garden to be planted.
This seasonal planting guide consists of popular garden items for the spring months.
- Leafy Greens – kale, chard, lettuce, salad greens, collards, mustard greens, watercress, arugala, salad greens, spinach
- Brassicaceaes (addition to leafy greens) – cabbage, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, broccolini, rutabaga, kohlrabi
- Peas – snap, sugar, shelling
- Root Vegetables – carrots, radishes, beets, daikon, turnips
- Culinary Herbs – cilantro, basil, oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary, mints, parsley, and more
- Small Alliums – walking onions, bunching onions, shallots, chives, leeks
- Perennials – asparagus, artichoke, rhubarb
Plant potatoes after the last frost and once the ground thaws. Doing so will provide bountiful late summer harvest.
Seasonal Planting Guide | SUMMER
Many of the items on this list are started mid-spring for a summer harvest. Because of the amount of time it takes nightshade plants mature it is best to start seeds in the later part of winter.This allows the plant to mature prior to planting.
Popular nightshade vegetation consists of peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and okra.
Items such as cucumbers, beans, summer squash do well when sown directly into the soil. Again, direct sowing seeds will depend on the growing season in your location.
This seasonal planting guide consists of popular garden items for the spring garden.
- Cucumbers – cutting and pickling
- Summer Squash – zucchini, patty pan, crookneck, round, etc
- Peppers – sweet and spicy
- Tomatoes – cherry, vine, beefsteak, plum for canning
- Beans – pole and bush
- Leafy Greens – heat tolerant varieties
- Alliums – onions, shallots, leeks, green onions
- Fruit – berries, plums, pears, quinces, grapes
Start winter squash seeds during the early summer months for a fall harvest.
- Winter Squash – pumpkin, acorn, spaghetti, butternut, hubbard, turban squash, and more
Those who are succession planting will begin to plant a fall garden as early as July. Reserve garden space in larger gardens to plant cool weather crops. A smaller home vegetable garden will pull summer items which have slowed in production.
Seasonal Planting Guide | FALL
Because the fall garden has a short growing season, it is best to start seeds in the beginning of summer. Depending on your growing zone, plan to drop fall vegetables as early as August.
Wondering what to grow? Mirror the cool weather seasonal planting guide.
Seasonal Planting Guide | WINTER
Depending on your location, winter is a time for the garden to rest. This should not stop you from growing greens indoors. A poly-tunnel will extended the fall growing season, allowing for a longer harvesting time.
However, before the first frost make sure to get the garlic bulbs into the ground. Learn how to grow and harvest garlic, and why a late fall planting is ideal for a good early summer harvest.
One final tip, allowing root vegetables and other fall items to winterize produces a sweet, more flavorful vegetable.
Cover the items with heavy mulch. Taller plants, like Brussel sprouts, can be protected from the elements using a poly-tunnel or a cold frame constructed with straw and older windows. As long as the ground is not frozen these items can be easily dug up and consumed during the cold winter season.
This seasonal planting guide is perfect for those starting a backyard vegetable garden. Keep in mind, the garden planting time will vary for each individual based on where they reside.