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Home Vegetable Gardening: A Gardener’s Calendar

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About This Calendar


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 are numerous web pages on the general topic of winter sowing.) 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 derive 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 hortulanus.

The weather data used for “typical” temperatures and such was our own 24-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—at the least—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 farther below.

Irregular Plantings:

These are vegetable plants that are not simply planted once a season. For these, the dates are not exact: there is a little play in each.

Seasonal Plantings:

Important notes:

The Seasonal Calendar

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Approximate Date: Tasks(s)
January 2 Be sure all your seed orders are placed; if not, place them now!
Order any needed seed-starting supplies (peat pots, mulch, etc.).
Get your seed-starting area cleaned up!
January 3 Artichokes: start seedlings
January 15 Cardoon: start seedlings
March 1 Celeriac: start seedlings
Swiss Chard: sow if soil temperature at least 50°F. (& every week thereafter till shoots appear)
March 12 Potatoes: plant if soil temperature at least 50°F. [check date with seedsman]
March 15 Cardoons: transplant if air temperature at least 50°F.
March 15 Leeks: start seedlings
Onion, standard: transplant [“as soon as your garden soil can be worked”]
March 16 Peppers: start seedlings
April 1 Artichokes: transplant
Beans, Fava: sow if soil temperature at least 40°F.
Kohlrabi: sow
Peas: sow if soil temperature at least 40°F.; 45°F. to 50°F. better]
April 6 Eggplant: start seedlings
April 10 Squash, winter: start seedlings
April 13 Tomatillo: start seedlings
April 20 Melons: start seedlings
May 1 Tomatoes: start seedlings
May 8 Celeriac: transplant
May 10 Leeks: transplant
May 11 Squash, summer: start seedlings
May 15 Beets: sow if soil temperature at least 50°F.
Pumpkins: start seedlings
May 16 Okra: start seedlings
May 25 Watermelons: start seedlings
June 1 (a busy day!) Beans, non-Fava: sow if soil temperature at least 60°F.
Corn: sow if soil temperature at least 65°F.; 70°F. better
Eggplants: transplant if soil temperature at least 65°F.
Melons: transplant if soil temperature at least 65°F.
Peppers: transplant if soil temperature at least 65°F.
Pumpkins: transplant if soil temperature at least 70°F.
Squash, summer: transplant if soil temperature at least 70°F.
Tomatillos: transplant
Tomatoes: transplant if soil temperature at least 65°F.
June 5 Squash, winter: transplant if soil temperature at least 70°F.
June 7 Sweet Potatoes: plant
June 12 Watermelons: transplant
June 15 Parsnips: sow
June 20 Okra: transplant
June 22 Cucumbers: sow
June 23 Cabbage, Red: sow
July 1 Florence Fennel: sow
July 3 Cabbage, Green: sow
Cauliflower, overwintering: sow
July 15 Broccoli: sow
August 1 Broccoli Raab: sow
Peas: try a re-sow
Brussels Sprouts: sow
August 13 Cauliflower, standard: sow
August 15 Spinach: re-sow
August 24 Carrots: sow
September 1 Beets: re-sow
October 1 Onion, potato: sow
October 15 Chervil Root: sow
Parsley Root: sow
Scorzonera: sow
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