When to Plant Your Garden

Find a planting calendar in your area to help plan your crops

Story and photo by Angela Judd

I learned the importance of knowing when to plant the hard way. When I first started, my garden struggled. Seeds would sprout and grow, then temperatures would climb or fall, and the plants would die before harvest time.

Calendar, Seeds, Garden Planting WorksheetIt took time to realize that although the soil was good and I was watering, my timing was wrong. I began having successful harvests once I found and started using a planting guide for my area.

Here’s how you can use a planting calendar to help your
garden thrive.

Why do I need a planting calendar?

Every vegetable, herb, fruit and flower has a preferred growing temperature. Some crops prefer cooler weather and tolerate a slight frost. Others need warmer weather to grow well and will die in frosty conditions. Plants are happiest and grow best in their ideal soil temperatures and growing conditions.

Planting crops at the right time is a crucial part of gardening. However, the best time to plant varies significantly by region. A big part of gardening success is learning the unique growing conditions of your area, which you can find in a planting calendar.

How can I find a planting calendar?

Using a reliable planting guide developed for your area gives you the greatest chance of success.

To find a planting guide or calendar for your area:

  • Ask local experienced gardeners.
  • Contact your local extension office to help determine the best time to plant. Many extension offices have planting calendars available on their websites.
  • Seek local nurseries, which can be an excellent resource for planting dates and information.

If you live in the desert southwest, I have planting date resources on my website and a calendar for sale. Visit growinginthegarden.com.

If you can’t find a planting guide for your area, use your first and last frost dates to create your own guide.

How can I find my average frost dates?

It is essential to know your average first and last frost dates. To find your dates, go to almanac.com/frostdates.

This information is a good starting point. Many crops give you an average planting date, such as 2 weeks before/after your last frost date. Use these dates to determine the best time to plant.

The number of days between your last and first frost date is your growing season. Colder areas have a shorter growing season than warmer areas. Understanding the length of your growing season allows you to select vegetable varieties well-suited to your area.

Looking for more garden tips? Check out Angela Judd’s blog growinginthegarden.com, or find Growing in the Garden on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and Facebook for gardening advice and inspiration