Growing vegetables at home can be a fun way to introduce your family to new, healthy foods. Vegetables vary greatly in size, color and shape, but also in taste. Even comparing vegetables from the supermarket to those grown in your backyard will yield incredible differences in taste and texture. Learning to grow vegetables yourself can be an extremely rewarding experience, but before you can begin, you need to know when to plant your backyard vegetable garden.
When you should plant your vegetables depends on the zone you are in. In North America, zones have been created based on the lowest recorded temperatures. Zone one is the coldest areas to the north. Zone 11 is the warmest areas, around the equator. Vegetable seeds are sold with planting directions that include the coldest temperatures tolerable. Comparing this temperature to the zone you live in will give you an idea of when to plant.
For those living in Europe and Asia, northern regions will begin planting later than southern regions. In general, those living nearest the equator can plant most hearty vegetables in March, while those in more northern areas with cooler temperatures need to wait until late May before planting most types of vegetables.
In addition to climate considerations, it’s important to also think about the type of seed being sewn. There are two basic types of vegetables: warm weather and cold weather. With careful planning, it’s possible to plant a crop of warm weather plants immediately followed by a crop of cold weather plants.
When succession planting, first choose your warm-season vegetables, which include tomatoes, peppers, corn and okra. Then, look for cold-hardy vegetables like carrots, parsnips and garlic that can survive throughout the winter. As the warm-season vegetables begin to die off, start the cold-season vegetables indoor. When the warm-season plants are finished, remove them and plant the cold-hardy vegetables in their place.
If you prefer, you can use a thermometer to test the temperature of the soil and determine the best time to plant vegetable seeds.
- Temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit are best for arugula, kale, lettuce, peas, radishes, spinach and similar plants.
- Temperatures of 50 degrees Fahrenheit are best for leeks, onions and turnips.
- Temperatures over 60 degrees Fahrenheit are well suited for beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots and cauliflower.
By paying attention to the temperature outside and carefully reading the information on the back of the seed packets, it’s possible to create a simple backyard vegetable garden that produces high quality produce through most of the year. Plan carefully and you’ll have plenty of fresh produce whenever you desire.