Spring, Summer and Fall Vegetables

Growing Vegetables
Spring Summer Vegetables

Those who like vegetable gardening should know when it's the best time to plant their veggies. It's important to understand that while many vegetables can be planted in various times of the year, there is an optimal planting time. Some vegetables simply grow better if planted in a specific season.

Weather and Planting

All plants have certain requirements you need to fulfill in order to grow strong, healthy plants. Vegetables are no exception: each veggie needs specific temperature and weather conditions to thrive. Some only grow in warm weather while others prefer cool weather. It's important to know the best temperature for the each vegetable: these optimal temperatures ensure the best production, so you sure want to stick to recommendations.

Broadly speaking, vegetables can be divided into warm season veggies (for summer) and cool season veggies (for spring and fall). Proper planting time will ensure the best success and healthy plants. That's why it's always useful to know about the best time to plant your vegetables.

Here are some tips on how to handle planting of hardy and semi-hardy vegetables in your garden:

Spring and Fall Veggies

Spring and fall are a good time to plant your hardy and semi-hardy vegetables that can thrive in cooler weather. They are typically planted early in spring for late spring harvest and late in summer for fall harvest.

Keep in mind that hardy vegetables can easily tolerate hard frosts, around 25 to 28 degrees F. They are ideal for spring and fall gardens. Some of the hardiest vegetables, such as spinach, kale and collards, can tolerate temperature even in the low 20s and high teens. In fact, they will even taste better if they mature in the cool weather. They are great for late summer planting so you can get them for the fall harvest.

Some vegetables you should plant in cooler weather (spring and fall):

  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Radish
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Parsley
  • Turnip
  • Collards
  • Kohlrabi
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Mustard greens
  • English peas

Semi-hardy veggies can tolerate only light frosts, between 29 to 32 degrees F. They can be grown late into fall and even through the winter in milder climates. These are good candidates for spring and fall gardens.

For example, lettuce ans Swiss chard are good for spring and fall gardens. These plants are semi-hardy so they can tolerate some frost. They grow nicely in spring in fall but you need to be careful and cover them if temperatures get too low.

Some good semi-hardy plants to grow in summer and fall:

  • Lettuce
  • Gourmet salad greens
  • Beets
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Cauliflower
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Endive
  • Swiss chard
  • Salsify
  • Irish potatoes
  • Radicchio
  • Rutabaga

Summer Veggies

The following vegetables prefer warmer climate so they are ideal for planting in the summer. For example, squash can really benefit from the heat: it won't thrive in cool temperatures. It is very sensitive to cold so you should plant it in the summer.

In fact, most of these veggies can be planted in late spring, after the threat of frost is past. This way, you will be able to harvest them and enjoy them in the summer.

Most of these vegetables are tender so they need high temperatures to thrive. It's best to grow them in temperatures between 65 and 90 degrees F. They are killed by the frost so they are suitable for summer gardens only. The only exception are frost-free climates (zones 9b and 10), where they can be grown outside summer.

Summer vegetables include:

  • Cucumber
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Melons
  • Beans
  • Corn
  • Pumpkin
  • Eggplant
  • Peppers
  • Summer squash
  • Gourds
  • Okra
  • Southern peas

Photo credit: Dianna Ott

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