When should I plant my vegetables and herbs? The best time to plant Is not the same for everyone.
Each person has to decide at what point their garden is ready for certain types of herb and vegetable plants. Perennial Herbs can be planted just about anytime it is beginning to get warm but Annual herbs such as Basil and Dill need to wait until night temperatures are well above freezing every night. Tomatoes and other “warm season” vegetables are frost tender and will be severely damaged by even a light frost which can happen when temperatures are as low as 36-38 degrees. “Cool season” vegetables like lettuce and broccoli like a bit of frost but a light freeze can cause damage and hard freezes will kill them completely.
Fortunately we are not alone in this endeavor to find the perfect date to plant. We have many tools to help us decide when spring has arrived and it is safe to set out our vegetables. Keep in mind that there is no “perfect” planting date although there are some that swear that planting by the moon is the way to go. You generally have a window of several weeks and sometimes even longer depending upon your climate zone. If you don’t like running out at night to cover up your plants with sheets because of a late frost warning then add about a week or two to the dates we recommend.
Determining The Average Last Frost Date
The first thing we need to do is determine when the average last frost date will be in your city. These dates are based upon NOAA climate maps and indicate the likely last frost date for your area plus add few days just to be safe. These are recommended shipping dates but not exact planting dates as that can vary depending upon the weather in your area.
Garden Conditions For Planting Make a Difference
You need to determine whether or not your soil has dried out enough to dig up the soil for loosening and adding compost. If you pick up a handful of soil and squeeze it between your fingers and it feels muddy and very moist, wait a week or so of sunshine before digging. If it feels soft and moist, but not wet, it is ready to be worked.
Lastly, you need to make sure no cold weather is on the horizon. Many times a last minute frost has ruined lots of hard work and planting by killing off tender seedlings. Better to wait a week or two than plant too early. There are many weather tools on the web that will help you see into the future at least 10 days.
When you give us your zip code, specific shipping dates will be recommended based upon the average last frost date for your area however this is the very earliest date, not the only date, you should plant.
Click here to see our recommended shipping dates for your area