When to plant what? – The answer to that question in our area seems to be very simple: on the May long weekend. This has to do with our last frost day, which is around May 25, and the Canadian Victoria day, a holiday that happens to be around the last frost day. Many gardeners here have followed this rule for many years more or less successfully. So why not follow this general rule?
Here are 3 good reasons:
1. There are plants that could and should be planted long before the last frost day. Plants like spinach, that do better in cooler conditions. Plants like Broccoli, that should be harvested before the cabbage butterfly lays eggs (late July – early August). And plants like onions that need a longer growing time. Those are all winter crops that do not mind some frost, especially when young. This part totally amazes me: God made plants that can grow in this cold northern weather – Thank You God!!! Other winter crops are: Kale, cabbage, parsley, peas, cauliflower, lettuce, beets, carrots (partly), radishes, swiss chard (and there are more).
2. There are plants that should be planted after the last frost day. These are plants that are summer crops and grow much better in warmer soil. Cold and rainy weather that so often occurs right after the last frost day can harm or even kill them. Eggplants and peppers, along with cucumbers and squash, do better if planted after the last frost day when the weather is really nice and warm.
3. It is a lot of work to plant everything in one go. Even if there would be no other reason to plant plants at different times, this would be a big one for us. I can totally understand when gardeners complain about gardening being such a hard work if they plant everything at the same time and then weed the whole garden at the same time (as is the case if you plant everything at the same time), and than have to harvest everything pretty much at the same time, too. We like thing simple: plant, weed, harvest – all in bits and pieces – that way gardening is fun.
Planting schedule for our area
The weather in our area is very unpredictable. In the years we have been living here we have experienced -20C = -4F in late April and snow in early June. To go by a planting date is almost impossible. There are some guidelines but they are all dependent on the weather. Nevertheless, it is worth it to watch the weather and to plant as soon as possible and as late as needed.
Late April Spinach, peas, onions, lettuce, parsley, kale, and transplants from the whole cabbage family (Broccoli, cauliflower, …).
Early May Beets, carrots (some like warmer weather, so plant some now, and some later), radishes, swiss chard.
Late May Carrots, beans, corn (does not grow well here, but it’s worth a try), squash (zucchini), potatoes, tomatoes transplants (might need protection).
Early June Transplants: Cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, squash (winter).
Expanding the growing season This is a topic for a whole new post, but also so much here. We like to extend the growing season and we find it is simplest to do so in the spring. Young, small plants are relatively easy to cover. The most fun to extend the growing season is with a green house.
Do you have the courage to break some general rules? Have an exiting gardening season!
Companion Planting for the Kitchen Gardener: Tips, Advice, and Garden Plans for a Healthy Organic Garden
You may also like the Spring Indoor Seed-Starting Schedule.