As we approach the middle of summer, those of us with green thumbs have to start thinking about our fall gardens. If you want to have fresh veggies sprouting in your backyard when autumn rolls around, now is the perfect time to get your seedlings in order!
The Farmer’s Almanac provides a detailed planting calendar for every city in the U.S., and their online tool can be tailored to fit your exact location. The planting dates are based around the average frost dates in each city’s location. A frost date is the average date between the last light freeze that occurs in spring, and the first light freeze that occurs in fall.
A light freeze constitutes temperatures between 29º F and 32º F. These are the temperatures at which tender plants can’t survive. A moderate freeze (25º F to 28ºF) will destroy most vegetation. A severe freeze, which is 24º F and below, will cause severe damage to most garden plants.
By averaging the frost dates in each city, gardening experts know exactly when you should plant your seedlings each season so that they receive the perfect amount of water, sun, and mild temperatures.
Just punch in your zip code, and you’ll see exactly when you need to plant your seedlings in order to have a blooming garden this fall.
Gardeners in Southern California should start planting bell pepper, eggplant, and tomato seeds around June 13. By August 8, the seedlings should be ready for outdoor planting. If you want to plant cabbage, start the seeds indoors by August 5, and they’ll be ready to go outside by September 2. If you want fresh broccoli and cauliflower blooming in your garden by fall, get the seeds ready inside starting August 15. Both will be ready for the outdoor sun by September 12.
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Let’s move over to the central U.S., where your green thumb has to be ready to go a bit earlier. Whereas bell peppers can wait to be planted in Southern California all the way until mid-June, Midwestern bell pepper seeds should be started indoors by May 15. By July 10, they’ll be ready to plant outside. Kale is another great plant to grow here, and it’s best to start those seeds around August 6.
In New York and surrounding areas to the east, celery and eggplant seeds should be started in May, as they’ll be ready for transfer to an outdoor garden by late July. Broccoli and cauliflower seeds should be started on August 1 so that they’ll be ready by the end of the month.
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In the heat of the southeast, you’ll want to plant your seedlings a little later. Late June is the best time to start bell peppers, celery, eggplant, and tomatoes. Broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower can wait until the end of August, while kale won’t be ready to go until about September 20.
Just think of all the delicious, fresh, and home-grown food you’ll be snacking on this fall if you start your seedlings right now. Proper planning is the key to a thriving garden, and a backyard full of tasty fall veggies is just a few months away!