Monday, June 30, 2014

Planting Calendar

On several occasions, people have asked what to plant when. But here's the thing—what to plant when is very dependent upon the climate of an individual garden. I can plant my onions out in January when people in other parts of the world are wondering if they'll ever see the soil under the snow again. That's an extreme example, so here's one closer to home. I pass gardens on my way to work all the time during the schoolyear. My school is about 25 miles away and 850 feet in elevation lower than where I live. One my favorite gardens I see on the way to work has corn sprouting each year in February. February! At my house, in the beginning of February, we still get light frosts. Other people nearby may have more shade than I do, or heavier soil, or be tucked between two hills.

The essential lesson of gardening is experimentation. That demands rule-breaking, curiosity, and a willingness to occasionally bet on the wrong horse. Every seed packet and book in the world will tell you that direct seeding in mounds ("hills") is the best option for cucurbits (melons, squash, etc), but I struggle to keep mounded soil moist enough in the warm months I plant them. This year, I planted in used six packs, and as soon as the little buggers had true leaves, planted them out in even, not mounded soil. My cucurbits had a better start this year than ever. (Of course, now, they're suffering because I haven't been watering enough. Shame on me. Note to self, melons and squash need lots and lots of water.) I'm sharing what usually works for me based on lots of failures. If your climate is identical in every way to mine—which, come on, you know it isn't—this may work for you. If not, please note that this calendar doesn't look like others you'd find in a book. In other words, throw the rules out, think about your soil, your sun, your water, and other factors, and take chances on when to plant. Keep in mind, the difference between year to year can through a wrench in garden planning, too. Be ready to fail; winning will be all the sweeter.

Glossary
Chitting: Letting potatoes develop sprouts by exposing them to light.
Direct seed: Plant by seed directly into the garden soil.
Heat and light: Plant in either a makeshift or actual greenhouse that is powered by the sun or electricity.
Plant out: Plant seedlings into the garden soil.
Six packs: Small six-cell plastic containers used to sell six seedlings at a time; I wash used six packs and reuse them over and over.
Slips: Shoots that grow off of sweet potatoes that will eventually become the plants you plant out in the garden.

January
Direct seed:
Peas
Salad greens (arugula, mache, lettuces)

With heat and light:
Eggplants
Peppers
Tomatoes

Plant out:
Onion seedlings (I purchase these)

Other:
Start sweet potatoes with a toes in glasses of water on windowsills

February
Direct seed:
Salad greens (arugula, mache, lettuces, endives, and chicories)
Cooking greens (chard and mustard)
Pole beans
Cilantro

With heat and light:
Tomatillos



March
Direct seed:
Pole beans
Carrots
Beets
Cooking greens (amaranth, chard, mustard)
Cilantro

In six packs:
Squash, melons, and cucumbers

Plant out:
Tomatoes

April
Direct seed:
Corn
Okra
Cilantro

In six packs:
Squash and melons

Plant out:
Sweet potato slips
Tomato seedlings
Eggplant seedlings
Pepper seedlings
Tomatillo seedlings
Squash, melon, and cucumber seedlings






May
Direct seed:
Asian long beans
Corn
Lima beans

Plant out:
Sweet potato slips
Squash and melon seedlings










June
Direct seed:
Asian long beans
Corn
Lima beans

















July
There's a lot to eat this month, but not much to plant. Planting, for me, starts next month again.








August
In six packs:
Broccoli
Rutabagas
Kale
Cabbage








September
Direct seed:
Pole beans
Endives and chicories
Carrots

In six packs:
Broccoli
Cabbage

Other:
Place planting potatoes somewhere bright to begin chitting






October
Direct seed:
Endives and chicories
Salad greens
Turnips
Peas
Fava beans

Plant out:
Garlic
Broccoli seedlings
Rutabaga seedlings
Kale seedlings
Cabbage seedlings
Potatoes







November
Plant out:
Broccoli seedlings
Cabbage seedlings

December
Sit back and enjoy the harvests. This, for me at least, is the easiest garden month.

3 comments:

michelle hamer said...

It is so interesting to peruse your planting calendar, it's really close to what I did when I lived in Santa Clara county, especially when I lived in a banana belt in the hills. My planting calendar has changed significantly since moving to an area with a much stronger coastal influence and I've learned from a lot of failures. Lots of failures. And plenty of surprising successes as well. I agree, most books are pretty useless unless you live in the same climate as the author. Fortunately, there is a somewhat local author who has written an excellent book tailored to our cool climate that has been my go to book for years. It also helps to know what the plants you are trying to grow need to succeed. Like long beans - no way in my garden, it just doesn't get warm enough here. And I don't even think about starting amaranth until mid July because it resents our cold nights in early summer.

Great post Christina! Every newly budding veggie gardener should read it.

Kate said...

The garlic hand is the best! Thank you for that. My planting dates are so far off from yours, it would be a bit boring for me to list them here. California is a place of individuality, isn't it?

Jessica said...

We live pretty close to each other, so this our calendars are pretty well matched. I have never written it down though. Kind of nice to see it organized and alongside some great pictures!