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Home Vegetable Gardening: A Gardener's Calendar

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About This Calendar

Basics

The very idea of a gardening "calendar" is arrogant. Nature famously is strong-willed, and commercial growers of decades' experience can occasionally be flattened by Mother Nature's steamroller of variations. This calendar, like any such thing, has to be seen as being at best an aide-memoire, a look-ahead reminder of what tasks likely lie in the near future, so they don't sneak up on us. It is absolutely, positively not a set, reliable framework. Do this on that date is impossible; start thinking about doing this sometime a fair bit ahead of that date is more like what we've got here.

Keep in mind that direct-seeding is chancey enough, but that when we start seedlings indoors for later transplanting out, we are arm-wrestling Mother Nature, and besides a strong will, She has strong arms. Not a few brave souls ignore indoor starts, sometimes with remarkable success. On the tomatoes page here, we quote someone--we've long since forgotten the source, who observed The neighbor would plant whole tomatoes that were just starting to turn at the first frost. He put them 12 inches deep and he had mobs of plants come up in the early spring. With big long roots. Some people advocate what they call "winterseeding", which is the same idea as the tomato fellow had: don't wrestle Mother Nature, dance with her; there is a web site, wintersown.org, with lots more information on this approach. Or, simplest of all, scatter seed in late autumn, when most plants normally and naturally drop seed, and see what happens come spring. For most home gardeners, that's too risky, but it's worth setting aside a little space and trying it with a few specimens of each vegetable you grow, to see if any do come up in their time with any regularity and vigor.

The entries on this calendar derives straightforwardly--more or less--from the "Timing" information on the various individual-vegetable pages of this site, which should be consulted for explanations of how the dates were estimated. Recall, please, what we said earlier: we are not "master gardeners" and this information is not the result of some vast personal experience--it is derived from extensive review of the literature and examination of local long-term weather tables. Caveat hortensia.

The weather data used for "typical" temperatures and such is the fifty-year data from the State weather-data-collecting station in Ritzville, Washington (State), which is a cool U.S.D.A. Zone 6a, very near to the map line separating it from 5b.

As we say on the Introduction page of this site, it is important to avoid worshipping at the altar of "Zone", because a Zone number does not tell anyone much of anything about a place save the typical coldest winter temperature; places with the same Zone number can have seriously different climates. The Ritzville climate is, we think, pretty representative--as to temperatures, anyway, even if not necessarily rainfall--of a great many places in the United States. We imagine that the information on this site is useful, with only minor common-sense modification, to anyone living from Zone 4 to Zone 7, inclusive, and that sure takes in a lot of territory.

Oh, and before jumping in, please do mind the special notes just below.

Important notes:


The Calendar Proper

Approximate Date: Tasks(s)
January 1 Be sure all your seed orders are placed or place them now
Order any needed seed-starting supplies (peat pots, etc.)
Get your seed-starting area cleaned up
January 15 Start artichoke seedlings
Start cardoon seedlings
Start broccoli raab seedlings
Start leek seedlings
February 1 Start broccoli seedlings
Start cabbage seedlings
Start cauliflower seedlings
Start celeriac seedlings
Start onion seedlings
February 15 Direct-seed Swiss chard (experimentally early)
Start hardening-off broccoli raab in a few days
March 1 Transplant broccoli raab seedlings
Direct-seed Swiss chard (if no growth yet from earlier)
direct-seed spinach (experimentally early)
Start hardening-off artichokes in a few days
Start hardening-off broccoli in a few days
Start hardening-off cabbage in a few days
Start hardening-off cauliflower in a few days
Start hardening-off cardoon in a few days
March 15 Start pepper seedlings
Transplant artichoke seedlings
Transplant broccoli seedlings
Transplant cabbage seedlings
Transplant cauliflower seedlings
Transplant cardoon seedlings
Start hardening-off leeks in a few days
Direct-seed spinach (if no growth yet from earlier)
April 1 Direct-seed fava beans
Direct-seed peas (all kinds)
Direct-seed sorrel (should be a one-time task: perennializes)
Start Brussels sprouts seedlings
Start eggplant seedlings
Start tomato seedlings
Transplant leek seedlings
Start hardening-off onions in a few days
April 15 Direct-seed beets
Transplant onion seedlings
Direct-seed carrots
Harvest & replant sunchokes
Harvest & replant scorzonera
May 1 Direct-seed bunching onions
Start summer-squash seedlings
Start tomatillo seedlings
Start melon seedlings
Start hardening-off Brussels sprouts in a few days
Start hardening-off celeriac in a few days
Start setting down plastic mulches for warm-weather crops
May 15 Start cucumber seedlings
Start pumpkin seedlings
Transplant Brussels sprouts seedlings
Transplant celeriac seedlings
Start hardening-off pumpkins in a few days
Start hardening-off summer squash in a few days
Start hardening-off tomatillos in a few days
Start hardening-off tomatoes in a few days
Start hardening-off peppers in a few days
Finish setting down plastic mulches for warm-weather crops
June 1 Direct-seed non-lima (& non-fava) beans (if soil Temp>60°)
Direct-seed lima beans (if soil Temp>65°)
Start okra seedlings
Start watermelon seedlings
Transplant pumpkin seedlings (if soil Temp>70°)
Transplant summer-squash seedlings (if soil Temp>70°)
Transplant tomatillo seedlings
Transplant tomato seedlings (if soil Temp>65°)
Transplant pepper seedlings (if soil Temp>65°)
Start hardening-off watermelons in a few days
Start hardening-off cucumbers in a few days
Start hardening-off eggplants in a few days
Start hardening-off melons in a few days
June 15 Transplant watermelon seedlings (maybe June 10th)
Direct-seed corn (if soil Temp>70°)
Direct-seed parsnips
Plant sweet-potato slips
Transplant cucumber seedlings
Transplant eggplant seedlings
Transplant melon seedlings
Start hardening-off okra in a few days
July 1 Direct-seed Florence fennel
Transplant okra seedlings
July 15 nothing
August 1 nothing
August 15 Direct-seed kohlrabi
Direct-seed fall peas (experimental)
September 1 nothing
September 15 Direct-seed kale
October 1 nothing
October 15 Plant potato onions (two weeks later if temperatures are mild)
Direct-seed root parsley (two weeks later if temperatures are mild)
Harvest & replant root chervil
Plant seed garlic? (evaluate seasonal weather)
Plant shallots? (two weeks later if temperatures are mild)
November 1 Plant seed garlic (if not yet done)
Plant seed shallots (if not yet done)
Plant potato onions (if not yet done)
Direct-seed root parsley (if not yet done)
Clean out all beds before ground freezes
—see below about garlic—
November 15 Plan Thanksgiving dinner around your garden produce!
Plant seed garlic (but check conditions - could vary +/- two weeks)
Black-plastic-mulch all unused beds for over-wintering
December 1 —see above about garlic—
December 15 Review seed catalogues and get your orders in for next year
Happy Holidays!
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