When to Plant Vegetables in Your Garden: Timing, Tips, and More

Alison Kasch
Written by Alison Kasch
Updated August 22, 2022
A family gardening in the backyard
Photo: Morsa Images / DigitalVision / Getty Images


  • Warm-season and cool-season vegetables require different planting temperatures.

  • Starting seeds indoors is recommended for temperature-sensitive crops.

  • Refer to seed packets to create your planting calendar.

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Nothing beats sautéed green beans, fresh-chopped salsa, or crisp crudités straight from your garden. But before you can enjoy a delicious and colorful harvest, it’s crucial to know when to plant vegetables. 

Too early and your crops may suffer at the hand of an unforgiving frost; too late and autumn’s chill will end your poor tomatoes before their biggest yield. Here’s when to plant to get the most vegetables from your labor.

Warm- vs. Cool-Season Garden Vegetables

To determine the best time to plant vegetables, the first thing to consider is whether your veggies are cool-season or warm-season crops. Warm-season vegetables are extremely sensitive to frost and thrive during the hotter months. It’s important to plant them after all danger of frost passes in your area, as they won’t survive if temperatures dip. 

Cool-season crops fare best in colder weather. They actually need cold temperatures to germinate, mature, and produce. It’s best to get these in the ground as early in the season as possible, as hot weather can stop growth or compromise the quality of the harvest. Many are hardy enough to withstand a mild frost, but it’s important to read your seed packet to be sure.    

When to Plant Warm-Season Vegetable Seeds

Warm-season vegetables will perish during a frost, so seeds shouldn’t go in the ground until after the last frost date in your area. They also don’t do well in soil temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, so consider picking up a soil thermometer to check temperatures before you sow.  

If your season for growing vegetables is short, starting seeds indoors will help plants mature sooner and produce more before it becomes too cold outside. If you need help choosing what to plant or finding the best time to get started, contact a local gardener for advice.

Warm-Season Vegetables 

  • Beans

  • Corn

  • Eggplant

  • Peppers

  • Zucchini

  • Summer squash

  • Pumpkin

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Cucumber

  • Tomatoes (technically a fruit, but worth mentioning)

When to Plant Cool-Season Vegetable Seeds

Cool-season vegetables are happiest and healthiest when soil temperatures are between 40 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. They germinate best in cooler soil, so it’s important to place them early in your planting calendar. 

Generally, they can go into the ground as soon as the soil is workable in the early spring. Be sure the soil isn’t overly soggy, though, as this can lead to rot.

Cool-Season Vegetables

All warm-season crops should generally go in the ground as soon as the last frost has passed, but cool-season vegetables call for more strategic timing in order to do their best. Here’s a month-by-month breakdown of when to plant these veggies.


January is usually too cold to plant, but it's a great time to get some seedlings started indoors. You can do it in a sunny window or a covered greenhouse

Here’s what to start:

  • Onions

  • Potatoes


February is another harshly cold month, but you can still get seeds started. Plant these vegetables in a covered greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill:

  • Peas

  • Carrots

  • Onions

  • Spinach


Once March rolls around, you can start sowing veggies outdoors as soon as the soil is workable. These plants are hardy enough to withstand frost, but you should wait until April if you live in a colder region. 

Here’s what to plant:

  • Asparagus

  • Leeks

  • Onions

  • Parsnips

  • Peas

  • Potatoes

  • Spinach

  • Spring onion


April is high time to get these veggies sowed outdoors:

  • Broccoli

  • Carrots

  • Cabbage

  • Cauliflowers

  • Chard

  • Lettuce

Starting New Vegetable Seeds Indoors

Vegetable seedlings growing in pots ready to be planted in the garden
Photo: Busybee-CR / Moment / Getty Images

Due to temperature sensitivities, starting seeds before the growing season is often the best route to take. Tomatoes and peppers, for instance, will produce far more if you start your crop with an established seedling before the planting date. In fact, both are better for starting indoors rather than sowing directly in the ground.  

On the flip side, certain veggies (such as peas) might not take a transplant well, so they’re best sown right in the ground.  

Seed packets will usually specify whether the plant can or should get started indoors and when. Be sure your seedlings get enough sun so they don’t get leggy—this refers to a tall and skinny plant that won’t produce as much (or not at all).  

Starting seeds indoors first also gives you time to create a garden bed outdoors if you don’t have one already. Hire a garden designer near you if you need help. 

Indoor Vegetable Seeds

Here’s a list of what you should strongly consider starting indoors:  

  • Brussels sprouts

  • Cabbage

  • Cauliflower

  • Celery

  • Eggplant

  • Leek

  • Onion

  • Pepper

  • Tomato

Expected Harvesting Times

Seed packets typically offer an estimated time to harvest your vegetable garden, or they might only list when you can expect a mature plant. While these may help determine how to calculate planting dates, they aren’t always exact. 

Factors such as precipitation, soil fertility, and temperature can all affect when your vegetable garden is ripe for the picking. Your best bet is to follow the instructions for your specific crop and provide the best possible conditions for the plant to thrive.  

Remember that your healthy garden starts with healthy soil—consider having a local soil testing service come out to help you determine if anything needs adjusting. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How early can you plant vegetables?

You can start planting cold-season vegetables as early as March, or around two to four weeks before your area’s last frost date. Be sure to allow the soil to dry out prior to planting so the seedlings don’t rot.

What's the easiest vegetable to grow?

Growing veggies can be tricky, but certain varieties are hardier and much easier to grow. These include:

  • Green beans

  • Peas

  • Lettuce

  • Carrots

  • Cucumbers

  • Kale

  • Beets

  • Swiss chard

What are the hardest vegetables to grow?

These vegetable varieties are notoriously difficult to grow:

  • Celery

  • Eggplant

  • Onions

  • Potatoes

  • Pumpkin

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