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Vegetables In The Right Season

The planting date for each vegetable depends upon the weather that the vegetable can best tolerate.
Vegetables in the right season
The planting date for each vegetable depends upon the weather that the vegetable can best tolerate.

Planting vegetables in their right season will greatly enhance your harvest. Most vegetables belong to one of two seasonal groups: cool-season crops and warm-season crops.

The planting date for each vegetable depends upon the weather that the vegetable can best tolerate. Cool-season vegetables grow best in early spring or in late summer and autumn when the weather is cooler. Warm-season vegetables grow best during the late spring, summer, and early autumn when the weather is warm.

Cool-season crops must mature while the weather is cool otherwise they will go to seed. That means they are usually planted at the end of the warm season or the start of the cool season. Warm-season crops must be planted and begin to grow after the last frost or freeze of winter, and they must mature soon enough that they can be harvested before the first frost of the next cool season.

Of course, if the weather in your region is cool year-round, cool-weather crops will be well suited most of the year. And, if you live in tropical or subtropical region where the weather is seldom if ever cool, warm-weather crops are your best year-round choice.

Cool-season crops

Cool-season vegetables should be planted so that they mature either in the spring or early summer before the heat of summer or later in autumn as the weather begins to cool. Cool-weather vegetables require a minimum planting temperature of 40-50°F (5-10°C), and they grow best when the temperature highs are in the range of 70-75°F (21-24°C).Cool weather crops usually stop producing when daytime temperatures reach 80ºF (26°C). or higher.

Cool-season vegetables that can tolerate frost and or short freezes are classified as hardy and half-hardy according to their tolerance. Hardy vegetables can be planted two to four weeks before the last frost in spring. Their seeds will germinate in cold soil and their seedlings can endure short freezes

Hardy vegetables include:

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Collards
  • Garlic
  • Horseradish
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Rhubarb
  • Rutabagas
  • Spinach
  • Turnips

Half-hardy cool-weather vegetables are able to tolerate light freezes, just a few hours of freezing weather or frost. Half-hardy crops should be planted about the date of the last spring frost. If they are planted too soon, they will not survive extended freezing weather.

Half-hardy vegetables include:

  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chard
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Chicory
  • Globe artichokes
  • Endive
  • Lettuce
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes
  • Salsify

Warm-season crops

Warm-season vegetables require a minimum soil planting temperature of 50°F (10°C). The optimal soil planting temperature for warm-season crops is 60°F (16°C). Warm-season crops do best when the air and soil temperatures reach 65-86° (18-30°C). Most warm-season vegetables require at least 75°F (24°C) for minimum growth.

Warm-season crops can be classified as tender and very tender. Tender vegetables are best planted one to two weeks after the last frost. Very tender vegetables are best planted at least three weeks after the last frost.

Tender vegetables include:

  • New Zealand spinach
  • Snap beans
  • Sweet corn
  • Tomatoes

Very tender vegetables include:

  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Lima beans
  • Muskmelons
  • Okra
  • Peppers
  • Pumpkins
  • Squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Watermelons

Many warm-season vegetables can be grown out of their season if they are protected from temperatures below 50ºF (10ºC). You can use cold frames, row covers, cloches or other season-extending devices to grow warm-season vegetables out of season.

More tips at Seed Planting Times.


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    • Cool-weather crops like to get their start in warm soil and come to maturity when days and nights are cool. Cool-weather vegetables include leafy crops and root crops: beets, carrots, and parsnips; salad greens, including lettuces; and members of the cabbage family like red and green cabbage, kale, collards, and broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. For articles on vegetable crops for autumn harvest go to the Index and then click on to Fall Crops or Fall Planting.

  1. I am planning half barrels first time I would like to know what to plant now this time of year and also to find out why my tomatoes never grew any thank you

  2. I am finally starting my very first garden. I’m in Ohio so right now our temps are anywhere between highs of 42°F & 58 °F and lows of 20°F-40°F. I’d like to start with cucumbers. Is this a good choice of vegetable but not yet time to plant? Thanks!!

    • Hold off on setting cucumbers in the garden until average temperatures are in the mid to high 60sF. Cucumbers are a warm-season crop. You can start seed indoors 4 weeks ahead of transplanting them into the garden; in Ohio, you may want to start seed indoors in mid to late April for setting in the garden in mid to late May. In the meantime, you can plant quick maturing leaf lettuce, spinach, radishes, and salad crops.

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