Planting Dates for Vegetables and Herbs
Fall planting dates and spring/summer planting dates get special treatment on my calendars. Planting dates are always earlier than you might think. To take full advantage of your spot of dirt out back, and to keep those greens coming, it’s best to start early on your garden.
If you don’t have any “dirt out back,” never fear, you can plant just about any plant in pots. Vegetables and herbs in pots can be just as appealing as decorative plants at the entrance of your home.
The two major planting times are spring and fall. The exact dates will depend on your growing zone and the first and last frost dates. Here in central Alabama, we’re in zone 8. This post will focus mainly on fall.
Click to see my summer vegetable garden planting schedule here in Alabama.
Spring Planting Dates
It seems crazy that winter is almost over and spring gardening will be here before you know it. Here in the South, February is the right time to start seed trays indoors for the nightshade plants — tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.
I give step-by-step instructions for how to sow and transplant seedlings here.
Two weeks after the last frost is the time to seed cucumber, squash, pumpkin, watermelon, cantaloupe, melon, corn, beans, and peas and the herbs such as cilantro, dill, oregano, and borage.
I cover spring planting in detail in this post. Click for a detailed how-to for spring and summer vegetable growing season.
Fall Planting Dates
Fall planting dates?! But it’s only August. Yet mid-August is high time to start planning and planting your fall garden. You want those winter greens ready to harvest when the weather turns chilly.
When Do You Plant or Transplant a Fall Vegetable Garden?
When planning your fall planting, the first thing to do is to check a planting calendar for the fall frost dates for your region or climate zone. Check these handy frost maps and charts from the U.S. National Weather Service. The frost and freeze maps are color coded.
Everyone’s optimum date to plant will vary from region to region; however, I get a rough estimate by using frost dates. Most gardeners plant fall vegetables at the same time, with a couple exceptions.
What month do you plant in the fall?
When does “fall” actually start when planting a fall garden?
Fall planting dates depend not only on your growing zone but also on the type of plants. Some plants often bolt or die when too cold (or hot), while others only get sweeter. Success often depends on timing.
About 10-12 weeks before average first frost…
Depending on your climate zone, quick-growing peas and potatoes might thrive when planted 10-12 weeks before the first frost. You can also sow seeds for root vegetables such as beets, carrots, parsnips, and radishes.
Around 8 weeks before the first frost…
About 8 weeks before the first frost dates, plant your “winter greens.” Greens like collards, kale, turnips, swiss chard, mustards, lettuce, spinach, kohlrabi, parsley, and even leeks can be sown directly from seed.
Cabbage, and other relatives like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts need to be planted 6 weeks previous in containers, and then set out at the time you you plant your other fall vegetables.
Then 4 weeks before first frost…
4 weeks or so before first frost, sow onions, along with more greens if you have room.
Right around the first frost…
About the time of the first frost, plant garlic. Fresh garlic is a delicious and highly nutritious vegetable. Moreover, it’s beautifully decorative to hang in in your kitchen!
What fall vegetables to plant?
These fall vegetables grow great in my region, or hardiness zone 8, but some might not grow great in your zone. Collards and kale, for instance, should only be planted in the spring outside the South. Therefore, to get accurate dates, look up your state’s extension system.
Of course, another big consideration is: what vegetables are you going to enjoy eating this fall and winter? Cool-season crops can yield a rich variety of flavors.
Cool weather demands the return of more hardy, stick-to-your-gut meals. Gone are the days of fresh salsa and chips, or eating melons on the porch. Though those light snacks are pleasant in the heat of summer, you now need something heartier to keep you happy and warm.
About this time every year I begin to crave much heartier meals, such as such as roasted venison and sweet potatoes, or fried rabbit and collard greens. Winter greens are a perfect pair for hearty meats such as organic beef, lamb, and venison.
Check out some of my favorite fall dinner recipes here.
Is it too late to plant veggies?
Depending on your climate, even well into fall there are still vegetables you can get into the ground for a winter garden harvest.
Whatever you do, don’t get overwhelmed and do nothing. Go ahead and get a few things in pots. Enjoy the process!! It’s worth it for your body, mind, and soul. Happy gardening!
I am in East Texas and I planted my first fall garden last fall. What a great gardening experience! As you mentioned, very little weeding and watering once it got cold. Our cabbage and broccoli made it all the way through winter, so we were able to enjoy it until February. Now I cant wait until fall, I will be planting a lot more types and varieties after realizing how simple it is. I can’t believe that fall gardens aren’t more popular.