When to Plant your Garden – Are you too Late?
Evan O’Neill - Extension Agent, Agriculture and Natural Resources
May 15, 2020
In many areas of life, it’s tempting to wait to start the next cycle if you feel like you are behind in the current cycle - gardening is no different. Since there is upfront work that needs to be done, it can feel even more daunting. Weeding, turning over beds, fixing beds, getting the materials, and starting seeds or buying starts all add to the amount of time before you can harvest anything at all.
Many gardeners and growers will tell you that there is no such thing as starting your garden for the year. A garden is a continual evolution with many different inputs at different time intervals. Spring is widely known for getting all plants in the ground so they can be harvested at the end of the summer. This is certainly true for some varieties of fruits and vegetables such as pumpkins with an average of 90-120 days to maturity. If you are late in getting started, there are many other options to make sure you aren’t missing out such as cucumbers, beans, and peas which have relatively short maturation periods.
A timeline guide on when to plant based on USDA Plant Hardiness Zones in Virginia by Virginia Cooperative Extension is available to make planning for all your growing very straightforward. https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/426/426-331/426-331.html
While the weather has been warm, we saw in the last week that a very last minute frost can upset even the best laid plans. Growers across the Commonwealth struggled to cover up their frost susceptible plants and some growers lost crops that developed early from the warm weather. While it might seem that you are getting a jump on the season by planting early in the warmth, it is always a good idea to observe the last frost dates based on your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone.
A Note About Succession Planting
Succession planting is a great way to make sure you are getting the most out of your growing season. This is the practice of planting new seedlings or seeds where others have just been harvested to make the most of the space you have. This means that you can immediately follow your longer season veggies that are maturing in late July and August with your greens if you missed the Spring growing window for those. For more information on this practice, refer to our Intensive Gardening Methods publication: https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/pubs_ext_vt_edu/426/426-335/426-335.pdf
The time to start is now no matter what season you are currently in. There are many methods of planning and growing different varieties of plants for different weather conditions. Explore VCE publications for more tips: https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/
*Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash