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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 chancy 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 was our own 21-year record of daily temperatures in our garden. We are nominally—that is, by the USDA map—a Zone 6b site, but if you review those data you will see that we are perhaps one whole Zone cooler (in good part because we lie in a local “frost pocket”). Moreover, 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. 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.

As we have said at length elsewhere on this site, you need to use either your own temperature records if you have a set covering enough time (at least two or three years) or you need to get data from your closest official weather station. Then you figure out your frost-free start asnd end dates and your mid-season date and adjust your own seed/transplant dates acordingly. This calendar is what we get for our climate using that approach; it can stand as a rough template, but do your homework using your own data.

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

Important notes:


Non-Calendar Plantings

One-Time Plantings

Some plants are perennials, so we only have to get them in the ground (or a pot) once for all. The outstanding example are saffron crocuses and sunchokes (formerly known as Jerusalem artichokes and now sometimes also called Sunroot)—but the category also includes many herbs (Bay Laurel, Chives, Garlic Chives, Lemon Balm, Lovage, Mints, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon, and Thyme, among others) as well as some greens (such as Mache) and even, grown indoors with care, some tomatoes.

The things grown indoors, which (for us, anyway) includes all the perennial herbs, can be seeded or transplanted whenever you get the seeds or plants. Saffron crocuses are normally received as bulbs in the autumn; sunchokes are planted out either in very early spring or fairly late autumn. For both plant types, the supplier will deliver when they think it appropriate. (You can get more detail on our pages here for Saffron and Sunchokes.)

Succession Plantings

For many vegetables (and herbs), wqe want a continuous supply, and that can be managed by succession planting: sowing a little more fairly frequently.

One class of such veggies is salad makings. That would include lettuces (of course), radishes, carrots (we use the ltlle round “Paris ball” types that, like radishes, are easy to grown in a small container, as are scallions. We also suggest some easy container-grown greens, such as Cress and “Miner’s Lettuce” (Claytonia).

Another class is herbs. The ones that aren’t perennials but that we can easily succession-sow include Basil, Chervil, Dill Weed, Fenugreek leaf, Summer Savory, and Parsley (which last we grow outdoors for our main crop, but like to have some freesh in winter).


The Calendar Proper

Approximate Date: Tasks(s)
January 2 Be sure all your seed orders are placed or place them now.
Order any needed seed-starting supplies (peat pots, mulch, etc.).
Get your seed-starting area cleaned up!
January 3 start Leek (Lancelot) seedlings
winter-sow yellow Onion (Clear Dawn)
winter-sow red Onion (Rossa di Milano)
“As soon as the ground can be worked…” container-plant Orach (Aurora, 38 days)
container-plant Mache (Verte de Cambrai, 45 days)
container-plant Mache (Large-Leaf Round, 60 days)
plant Swiss Chard (Bright Lights, 56 days)
plant Peas, standard [early] (Lincoln, 65 days, and/or Green Arrow, 70 days)
plant Peas, Snap [early] (Cascadia, 65 days)
plant Peas, Snap [later] (Sugar Snap, 70-80 days)
plant Fava (Windsor, 75 days)
plant Spinach (Amsterdam Prickly-Seeded, 40 days)
container-plant Scorzonera (Noir de Russe, 120 days)
transplant Onion, Yellow (Clear Dawn, 104 days from transplant)
transplant Onion, Red (Rossa di Milano, 114 days from transplant)
March 14 transplant Leek (Lancelot, 70 days from transplant)
March 15 start Lovage seedlings
April 1 sow Parsley (Gigante d’Italia Parsley, 70 days but will self-reseed)
April 4 start Celeriac seedlings
April 6 sow California Poppy (Rainbow Mix, 55-75 days)
April 12 container-plant Burnet (Salad Burnet, 70-100 days but will self-reseed)
April 15 plant Beet: Lutz (60 days)
April 27 sow Sorrel, French [Rumex scutatus] (60 days but will self-reseed)
start Tomatillo (Purple Blush) seedlings
start Tomatillo (Verde Puebla) seedlings
May 1 sow Marigolds (Tangerine Gem, 68 days; may self-reseed)
start Melon (Early Hanover) seedlings
start Melon (Jenny Lind) seedlings
start Tomato (Anna Russian) seedlings
May 3 start Melon (Noir des Carmes) seedlings
May 7 start Melon (Minnesota Midget) seedlings
May 11 sow Nasturtiums (Jewel Mix, 42 days; may self-reseed)
May 15 transplant Lovage, perennial
plant Borage (Borage, 55 days but will self-reseed)
container-plant Purslane (Green, 50 but will self-reseed—invasively if not watched)
container-plant Lemon Balm, perennial
plant start Squash (Kabocha) seedlings
May 16 start Okra (Clemson Spineless) seedlings
May 20 start Squash(Bennings Green Tint) seedlings
May 31 plant Bean, Runner (Scarlet Emperor, perennial)
June 5 transplant Squash (Kabocha, 95 days from transplant)
June 10 transplant Squash, Pattypan (Bennings Green Tint, 47-56 days from transplant)
transplant Eggplant (Rosita, 75 days from transplant)
June 12 transplant Melon, Muskmelon (Early Hanover, 80 days from transplant)
transplant Melon (Jenny Lind, 80 days from transplant)
June 14
BUT CHECK SOIL TEMPERATURE FOR 65° MINIMUM!
plant Corn (Bodacious RM, 77 days)
container-plant Purslane (Green, 50-60 days) {will thereafter self-seed}
June 15 transplant Pepper, Sweet, Bell, yellow (Sun Bright, 74 days from transplant)
transplant Pepper, Sweet, Bell, orange (Horizon, 74 days from transplant)
transplant Pepper, Hot (Black Hungarian, 75 days from transplant)
transplant Melon, Cantaloupe [true] (Noir des Carmes, 75 days from transplant)
June 17 transplant Melon, Muskmelon (Minnesota Midget, 65-70 days from transplant)
transplant Pepper, Sweet, (Habanada, 70 days from transplant)
transplant Tomatillo, purple (Purple Blush, 70 days from transplant)
transplant Tomatillo, green (Verde Puebla, 70 days from transplant)
June 19 transplant Tomato (Anna Russian, 70 days from transplant)
June 20 transplant Pepper, Sweet, Bell, red (King of the North, 68 days from transplant)
transplant Pepper, Sweet, Corno, red (Italian Sweet, 70 days from transplant)
transplant Pepper, Sweet, Corno, yellow (Gatherer's Gold, 70 days from transplant)
transplant Pepper, Hot (Plant-Early Jalapeño, 66 days from transplant)
transplant Okra (Clemson Spineless, 50-64 days from transplant)
June 22 plant Cabbage (Mammoth Red Rock, 100 days)
start Leek (Blue Solaise) seedlings
June 23 plant Cucumber (Marketmore 76, 60 days)
plant Cucumber (Poona Kheera, 60 days)
June 27 transplant Celeriac (Tellus, 110 from transplant)
July 1 plant Cauliflower (Galleon, 270 days: over-winter)
July 3 plant Parsley Root (Hilmar, 120 days)
July 12 plant Cabbage (Storage #4, 80 days)
July 15 plant Broccoli: Umpqua (60 days)
August 1 plant Kohlrabi (Gigante, 130 days)
August 8 plant Brussels sprout: (Gustus [hybrid], 99 days)
August 16 plant Beet (2nd planting): Lutz (60 days)
August 23 plant Carrot (Nantes Fancy, 68 days)
August 31 transplant Leek (Bleu de Solaize, 110 days from transplant)
September 1 plant Spinach (Amsterdam Prickly-Seeded, 40 days)
September 8 plant Garlic, Porcelain (Romanian Red)
plant Garlic, Purple Stripe (Chesnok Red)
plant Garlic, Purple Stripe (Russian Red)
plant Garlic, Silverskin (Sicilian Silver)
plant Shallot [red] (Dutch Red, 105 days)
plant Shallot [grey], (Gray, 90 days)
December 1 Review seed catalogues and get your orders in for next year: you will be starting seedlings in one month!
Happy Holidays!

Harvesting

By and large, one uses one’s eyes and brain to decide when to pick what. We give below a simple list suggesting—note that word—about when you migfht be able to start picking what. Do not go by this (or any other) list: every year is at least a little different, and some of them are a lot different. This is just to sketch out roughly average times for the particular vegetables and planting/transplanting dates we talk about.

(For plants seed-sown “as soon as the ground can be worked”, we have assumed here a sowing date of March 15th.)

Note also that these dates are about when one expects harvesting to start: for many vegetables, harvest will proceed over some period of time, often till winter kills the plants.

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