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Two of the most important aspects of gardening are knowing when to plant and what to plant in your vegetable or flower garden. However, it can be difficult to know the exact time to begin planting in order for a garden to fully flourish throughout the growing season. If your plant or garden fails to thrive, simply adjusting your planting time frame might make a big difference. A planting calendar takes the guesswork out of the process.
The Gilmour planting guide is an ultimate guide on when to plant what, based on planting zones and frost dates. Read on to learn more about:
- What is a planting calendar?
- What is a frost date?
- How to calculate planting dates?
- When should you transplant seedlings?
- Common questions about planting calendars
What is a planting calendar?
A planting calendar is a simple guide that tells when the optimal time to plant any type of vegetable, flower or plant is.
How does it work?
Planting calendars are designed to calculate the best time to start seeds and plant a garden. Timing for all planting is based on first and last frost dates. For example, if planting in hardiness zone 5, the last frost date is generally between April 1st – April 15th, and the first frost date typically falls between October 16th – October 31st. These dates will in part dictate when the best time to plant is.
From specific plants and vegetables that thrive in one particular zone, to when to plant, to how much water they need, to when to harvest, the Gilmour Planting Calendar provides everything you need to know to grow a bountiful garden.
What is a frost date?
A frost date is the first and last average day or range of days a frost is usually experienced in a zone. These are important to know, as some plants will not tolerate extreme cold from a frost. Keep frost dates in mind when deciding when to plant to ensure you have a garden that grows and produces as much as possible.
When to plant vegetables?
If you are wondering when the best time to plant vegetables in a specific area is, or what types tend to do better where you live, a planting and growing calendar is the first place you should look.
In zones where vegetables do very well as long as there isn’t an unusually late frost soon after planting (when a plant is still young and vulnerable). Even though you can plant and enjoy almost any vegetable here, we are still very cognizant of when to actually put something in the ground. For instance, broccoli and kale are planted in March – April, whereas corn and tomatoes won’t go in the ground until May – June. A planting calendar helps you decide exactly when to plant every type of vegetable.
When to plant flowers?
Determining when to plant flowers is easy once you learn the first and last frost date in your zone. Zones can be divided even amongst themselves, and this can slightly vary suggested planting dates by a week or two. Always look at the type of flower to see if it will tolerate your zone and frost dates. Hardy flowers like pansies and alyssum will survive light frosts, whereas tender flowers like dahlias and nasturtium need warm soil to grow properly. So, it is the type of flower combined with frost dates that will be the ultimate guide in creating a garden calendar that will result in the most beautiful blooms and bounty.
When to plant herbs?
Most herbs can be started from seed indoors or outdoors. Young starter plants can be put directly in the ground. All three options will often yield a great result. When to actually start or plant an herb greatly depends on zone and the type of herb you want to grow. Some herbs like chives can be started indoors 8 – 10 weeks, or outside 3 – 4 weeks, before the last frost.
When to plant fruits?
Planting fruit trees in early spring or late winter is typically fine if planting them in the ground. Container trees tend to do well if planted any time from September to May. However, if deep in the heart of winter, wait for a milder spell before planting. Other fruit such as strawberries can go in the ground as early as 6 weeks prior to the last average frost date in an area. The best time to plant fruit depends on what you want to plant and where you live.
How to calculate planting dates?
Calculating planting dates is different for each plant. It’s based on growing zone, frost dates and a plant’s maturity date and needs. A planting schedule can be created by determining the first frost date and then working backwards. This will help figure out the best planting date for whatever you are growing. The goal is to ensure a plant has enough time to mature before the first frost of the year. Once armed with this information, check the growing and maturity times for each individual plant or vegetable you will plant.
Why start planting seeds indoors?
Many people wonder about when to start planting seeds. There are many reasons why gardeners may choose to start plants from seed. Some do so simply to get a jump start on the gardening season, since the process can be started even while still cold out. For others, it’s the cost-factor that’s so attractive, as a pack of seeds is cheaper and will produce much more yield than a starter plant. And still others like to know exactly how their plants are raised – this is especially true for gardeners who are concerned with organic practices. But the biggest reason to start seeds indoors can be to protect seedlings from harsh weather conditions.
Which seeds should start indoors?
Some plants are better suited to be planted outdoors from the start. However, many varieties will do exceptionally well when started from seed indoors. Of course, it’s always important to keep in mind there are other factors to note besides just the type of plant. When to plant, and how well a plant will do indoors versus outdoors, will vary from plant to plant. Growing zone also needs to be taken into consideration.
Plants that you can start indoors from seed include:
- Brussels sprouts
- Swiss chard
When should you transplant seedlings?
One of the most important components to starting plants from seeds is timing. Knowing when to move seedlings outside is critical to a plant’s success. Wait too long and you risk a root bound plant and transplanting too soon means your plant may not be strong enough to survive the elements and shock from being moved to a new environment.
Surprisingly, size is not always a steadfast indicator of a plant being ready to move outdoors. Some seedlings will grow quickly but may not be ready to move outside. A better way than size to tell if a plant is mature enough to be transplanted is by the number of true leaves it has. If a seedling has between 3 and 4 true leaves, it is likely ready. Note that the very first leaves to grow are not what you’re looking for. Those initial leaves are cotyledons and store food for growing plants. True leaves emerge after the cotyledons.
Of course, temperature and frost play a big factor on when to transplant seedlings. Knowing the last frost date and a plant’s standard frost guidelines is important.
Common questions about planting calendars
Can there be more than one planting season?
Some zones offer succession planting, or “second plantings.” Warmer climates, such as zones 7 – 10, will often provide two opportunities to plant some of your favorite veggies. For example, in Florida, you can plant peppers and tomatoes in February to enjoy a summer harvest, and then again in early fall for a winter harvest.
How to tell how much to water your garden?
A good rule of thumb is to water your garden about 2 inches each week. Use this guide very loosely, though, as specific plants, zones and planting areas will all dictate how much water is actually needed. The water needs of one plant versus another can vary tremendously.
When is the best time to plant a garden?
There really isn’t any one, good answer to this question. Just like water, soil, light and other growing conditions, plants can have very different needs for the best time to be planted. The only way to know for sure is to use a gardening calendar that calculates the first expected and last average last frost date in a specific zone – this will help determine planting timing for each plant.
What can I plant before winter?
Just because the weather is cooling off doesn’t mean the growing season has to be over. Cooler fall temperatures are the perfect time to plant many delicious vegetables such as garlic, asparagus, peas and onions and shallots.
When should I stop watering before harvesting?
For most plants, stop watering about 1 -3 days prior to harvest. Ideally, soil should be relatively dry, but plants should not be so thirsty they wilt or droop.
Planning a gardening calendar is exciting – and a planting calendar takes some of the guesswork out of the process, so it can also be fun and rewarding. With careful thought, the end result is an entire garden of gorgeous plants that will produce all season long. [external_footer]