Victory Blog: Vegetable Planting Basic Guidelines
It’s almost time to get started on your seedlings this year so I wanted to give some quick information on planting dates. The information below can be applied once you know what the average first and last frost dates are in the area you live in. For example my average frost dates here in Boulder, Colorado are 05/17 for spring and 09/20 for fall. So if I wanted to plant a cool season crop such as cabbage or broccoli, the information below shows that I should plant 2-4 weeks before the average last spring frost. Knowing that my last spring frost will be on or near 05/17 I can make the decision to plant my cabbage or broccoli sometime between 04/19 and 05/03. Another thing to consider is the fact that some plants prefer to be planted directly into the garden soil while others prefer to be started early in a warmer indoor environment and then transplanted into their place in the garden. For example our cabbage and broccoli, which should be growing outdoors by the third or fourth week in April, should already have been germinated indoors and have developed a root system good enough to withstand being transplanted outdoors. It will take up to 10 day for our cabbage and broccoli to germinate then they will need to grow for a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks indoors before they can be transplanted outside. All this growing time adds up and as you can see to properly plan for spring cool season crops we have to get started early. Even as early as the first week of March for our cabbage and broccoli to germinate and vegetate long enough before they can be safely transplanted outdoors. Each plant species has unique time requirements regarding their germination and transplant dates. Below I have listed some basic information on popular garden vegetables that may help you when planning your garden this year. If the type of plant you are interested in is not listed below then you can usually find this information and more printed on the back of most quality seed packs located at yourlocal garden center.
To help us determine what and when to plant, the information below shows how garden vegetables can be broken into two categories such as cool season crops and warm season crops, each with its own sub-category.
Cool season crops prefer cool growing temperatures (60°F to 80°F) and lose some quality in hot weather. They are often replanted mid-summer for fall harvest.
Examples of hardy cool season vegetables:
Broccoli, Cabbage, Kohlrabi, Onions, Lettuce, Peas, Radish, Spinach, Turnips.
These plants should be planted as early as 2-4 weeks before the date of the average last spring frost.
Semi Hardy cool season vegetables:
Beets, Carrots, Cauliflower, Parsley, Parsnips, Potatoes, and Swiss Chard
These crops may be planted as early as 0-2 weeks before the date of the average last spring frost.
Warm season crops prefer summer-like weather with temperatures between 70°F and 95°F. They are intolerant of frost and may be sensitive to cool spring winds.
Tender warm season vegetables:
Beans, Celery, Corn, Cucumbers, Summer Squash
These crops may be planted (from seed) around the date of the average last spring frost. Transplants of cucumbers and summer squash without frost protection should be delayed until frost potential is over.
Very tender warm season vegetables:
Lima beans, Cantaloupe, Eggplant, Pepper, Pumpkin, Winter Squash, Pumpkins, Tomato & Watermelon
These crops are typically planted two plus weeks after the average last spring frost date.
As previously mentioned some plants prefer to be seeded directly into the garden outdoors and some plants prefer to be started early indoors and grown large enough to transplant. I have listed some basic information on popular plant varieties below.
Transplanting Cole Crops:
Cole crops such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and brussels sprouts tend to germinate better in warmer soil, so they are typically started early indoors and then transplanted outdoors. Germination rates and age of transplant for individual plant species can typically be found on the back of your seed packet or researched online. In warmer areas of Colorado, these crops produce the best quality when direct seeded in mid-summer (early July) for harvest during the cooler fall weather.
Transplanting Vine Crops:
Vine crops such as cucumbers, squash, and melons tend to have roots that are extremely intolerant of being disturbed, and perform best when grown by direct seeding rather than by transplants. However they can be started indoors if needed. Keep in mind that vine crops germinate rapidly, as quickly as 2-3 days and should only be grown for 2-3 weeks before transplanted with extreme care to not disturb the roots.
Tomato plants are traditionally planted outdoors from transplants. Their seeds should be germinated indoors and given plenty of time to develop into well established plants before taken outdoors. This will allow the plant ample time to prepare itself for flowering and giving it a strong stalk to support those juicy and heavy tomatoes that everyone loves so much.
The last bit of important information I wanted to mention today is to please remember to harden off your indoor started plants before transplanting them outdoors. This simple means to take your time when introducing your seedlings to the great outdoors. Start off by placing them outdoors for an hour the first day then a few hours the next and so on so they can get used to the incredible powerful rays of the sun and otherwise harsher outdoor environment gradually. Also, don’t forget to come by our locally owned family business located at 1387 East South Boulder Rd in Louisville Colorado to pick through our Organic and Heirloom seed selection provided by BBB seed company. We can also help get you started with starter kits to get your seeds growing faster and stronger than ever! I hope this information will help you to prepare yourself for a great 2012 garden season.