Best Time of Year to Start Planting Vegetables

The best time of year to start planting vegetables will depend on the type you are planting. However, in general, there are two planting seasons, the cool and the warm seasons. The actual date that the vegetable is planted will depend on how the vegetable can tolerate the weather it is being planted in. As the names suggest, the vegetables that are planted during the cool season grow best when the weather is not cold, but cool. The vegetables that are planted during the warm season, grow best when the weather is warm. 

Planting Vegetables During the Cool Season

The planting temperature for vegetables during the cool season is between 40-50 degrees F. However, cool season vegetables reach their optimal growing performance when they are planted in temperatures between 70-75 degrees F. When the temperature during the day reaches 80 degrees F and above,  cool season vegetables will stop growing. The best time to plant vegetables in the cool season is during the spring, the beginning of summer, or late autumn. 

There are some cool-season vegetables that can withstand short freezes or frost, these are known as half-hardy or hardy vegetables depending on how much they can tolerate. You can plant hardy vegetables around two to four weeks just before spring has its last frost. These vegetables are capable of germinating seeds in cold soil and they are able to withstand short freezes. Here is a list of some of the most popular hardy vegetables:

  • Turnips
  • Spinach
  • Rutabagas
  • Rhubarb
  • Radishes
  • Peas
  • Parsley
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Kohlrabi
  • Kale
  • Horseradish
  • Garlic
  • Collards
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus

Cool weather half-hardy vegetables are capable of tolerating light freezing. They can handle a bit of frost and a couple of hours of freezing weather. This type of vegetable should be planted on or around the spring frosts last date. Half-hardy vegetables will not be able to endure freezing weather for long periods of time. Here is a list of the most popular half-hardy vegetables:

  • Salsify
  • Potatoes
  • Parsnips
  • Lettuce
  • Endive
  • Globe artichokes
  • Chicory
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Chard
  • Celery
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Beets

Planting Vegetables During the Warm Season

The soil temperature for warm-season vegetables should be around 50 degrees F. However, vegetables grow best when the soil temperature and air reach between 65-86 degrees F. For minimum growth, the majority of warm season vegetables need to be planted in temperatures of around 75 degrees F. 

Warm-season vegetables are either very tender, or they are slightly tender. The best time to plant very tender vegetables is after the last frost, but you should not wait more than three weeks past this date. The best time to plant tender vegetables is also after the last frost, but you shouldn’t wait for more than 1 to 2 weeks. Here is a list of tender vegetables:

  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet corn
  • Snap beans
  • New Zealand spinach

Here is a list of very tender vegetables:

  • Watermelons
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Squash
  • pumpkins
  • Peppers
  • Okra
  • Muskmelons
  • Lima beans
  • Eggplant
  • Cucumbers

It is also important to mention that there are a lot of warm-season vegetables that can be grown out of season if you can find a way of protecting them from temperatures that are less than 50 degrees F. The best way to do this is to use devices such as cloches, row covers, and cold frames. 

Growing Vegetables Indoors

You can bypass seasonal planting by growing vegetables indoors. One of the problems with growing vegetables outdoors is that the weather is unpredictable, this is especially true if you live in European countries such as the United Kingdom. One minute it is warm, the next it is cold, so to get around this, you can plant your vegetables indoors where you can have full control over the growth environment. 

There are a lot of vegetables you can grow indoors; however, root vegetable crops should be grown outdoors because they don’t transplant well. I will discuss these shortly. You will also need to take into consideration the length of the growing season when it comes to planting seeds. This is something you will need to think about whether you are growing vegetables indoors or outdoors. The reason for this is that when growing seasons are short in cooler regions, it is better to start the growth process inside so that they can get ahead of the growing season. They also need protection from cold spring temperatures where freezing can occur. 

If you live in a warmer climate and the growth season is longer, you can start the planting outdoors because they are not at risk of dying from cold temperatures and therefore do not need a head start. 

The Best Time to Start Growing Vegetables Indoors

The planting process for the majority of plants should be approximately six to eight weeks before the last date of the spring frost. When the vegetables are planted on time, it gives the vegetables enough time to grow big and healthy so that they can withstand being transplanted into the garden. 

The Best Time For Transplanting

The best time to transplant the seeds from indoors to outdoors is when the seeds no longer fit in the starter pots. If the temperature is not ideal to plant the seeds outside, you will need to transfer them to a larger pot so that they have enough space to grow. 

Root Vegetable Crops You Will Need to Grow Outdoors

As mentioned, there are some root vegetable crops that you will not be able to grow inside, which means you will need to wait for the right season and temperature to grow them. Here are some of the most popular root vegetables you will need to grow outside:

  • Turnips
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Rutabaga
  • Radishes
  • Potatoes
  • Parsnips
  • Onions
  • Horseradish
  • Carrots

Final Thought

With the amount of genetically modified vegetables being sold in the supermarket these days, it only makes sense that we start growing our own food. However, this is not an easy task, and it is important that you are aware of the correct process involved to effectively grow your own vegetables.


Charlie loves to garden with his family and friends. His favorite vegetables to grow are cucumbers, string beans and lettuce.

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