When to Plant Your Garden

It’s easy to get overexcited, but some seeds aren’t ready to be sown.

Year-round gardening has never been easier with indoor planters and greenhouses. But there’s nothing like a traditional garden, which provides fresh flavors and a chance to enjoy the outdoors. Just be aware that many plants grow best when planted at a certain time of the year.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides information on growing zones, based on climate and regular weather patterns. You may have to wait until later in the year to plant or, in some cases, your options may be restricted. You’ll also need to study the needs of the plants you’re trying to grow. For instance, popular garden staples like herbs, peppers and tomatoes fare better when they grow as seedlings before being transplanted. On the other hand, things like beans, corn, peas, carrots, radishes, cucumbers and pumpkins are best planted as seeds. Whatever you choose, pay close attention to the weather. It’s tempting to jump the gun on the first sunny day, but remember soil should be warm over several days in a row before planting seedlings or seeds.


Start transplanting plants that started indoors each April and start seeding projects too. Germinating plants need the extra time in the ground. Beets, beans, carrots, corn, lettuce, cucumbers, melons and onions should be planted in April. Cabbage is one of the easiest things to grow; it’s not too late for peppers and tomatoes, either. If all goes well with peas, they could be ready for harvest by May.


Unfortunately, a check of planting zones shows that many Americans live where April still brings freezing temperatures. That could mean waiting, or being prepared to cover your plants when wintry weather threatens. Most of these plants will thrive in May, if the temperatures where you live mimic those from April elsewhere. Plant beans, squash, melons, and cucumbers as temperatures continue to warm in May.


Some plants simply love summer’s heat, including zucchini and summer squash. Plant them in June, with an expected harvest late in July or in early August. Choose bean varieties like Kentucky Wonder, Contender or Top crop in June and they may be ready to eat before mid-July. Lettuce and carrots can be planted until very late in the summer.