Until just lately, Americans spent round 10%, and Europeans 12%, of their incomes on meals from grocery shops and eating places. The COVID-19 pandemic has made these purchases far more tough by disrupting the meals provide chains and decreasing many individuals’s incomes. Shortages and lengthy traces at grocery shops have stoked considerations about our meals safety. But one constructive response is a heightened curiosity in rising our personal meals, as a part of a motion towards self-reliance.

Seed provide firms are seeing an unprecedented uptick in gross sales. And yard gardening info is in such excessive demand that the National Gardening Association created a Guide to Gardening During a Pandemic.

But if you would like to develop your individual meals, the place do you begin, particularly when you’re a gardening beginner? There are so many various kinds of greens to develop. And not everybody has the identical rising circumstances. Luckily, you will discover, or create, your individual planting calendar, which can enable you to decide what to plant when, so you’ll be able to efficiently develop your individual meals.

What is a Planting Calendar?

A planting calendar, or planting schedule, reveals you what to plant throughout what time of 12 months, relying in your location. Most planting calendars use frost dates (the final spring frost and first fall frost), which give steerage on whether or not to sow seeds indoors or outdoor and when to stick these seeds within the floor or transplant seedlings.

The following sections cowl what to contemplate when figuring out what to plant and when to plant it, in addition to introducing you to the completely different components of a planting calendar.

Planting Zones

USDA plant hardiness zone map
U.S. Department of Agriculture

One of the primary components you’ll want to decide if you would like to develop your individual meals is your planting zone. A planting zone, or hardiness zone as they’re typically referred to as, is a geographical space the place sure sorts of crops can develop primarily based on the area’s local weather circumstances.

In the US, planting zone standardization comes from the USDA’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map. This map divides the US into 10-degree zones primarily based on the typical annual minimal temperature through the winter. The continental US has 10 important zones, with an extra three zones for Puerto Rico and Hawaii. You can discover your planting zone by wanting on the map above or visiting the USDA’s web site right here.

Note: If you seek the advice of an previous gardening e book or journal that references the USDA zone map, it’s possible you’ll be utilizing outdated info. The zone map was up to date in 2012 to replicate higher assortment strategies of temperature information from 1976 to 2005. But it doesn’t consider adjustments in local weather which have occurred since 2005. So you continue to have to use a little judgment in deciding when to put completely different crops within the floor.

Although that is a US-based system, it’s used around the globe to decide planting zones. In the UK, the Royal Horticulture Society has additionally provide you with its personal system. They use USDA zones six by 13 and assign them their very own hardiness rankings. Other nations can discover their hardiness zone by figuring out their coldest winter temperature and evaluating it to the USDA zone map.

Once you discover your planting zone, you’ll be able to then transfer on to figuring out what you’ll be able to plant, primarily based in your zone.

What Should I Plant?

harvesting lettuce in a home garden

What you plant needs to be primarily based on what you need to harvest and eat — offered it may develop in your zone. And, there are a few issues to contemplate earlier than shopping for seeds or child starter crops.

Nutrition Per Acre

When it comes to vitamin, residence gardens are the champs. Growing meals at house is a unprecedented means to improve meals safety and self-reliance. And it’s additionally a wonderful means to contribute to carbon sequestration and soil regeneration, and to increase your loved ones’s vegetable consumption. Some of the highest dietary meals that many individuals like to develop at residence are:

  • Tomatoes – One medium tomato contains 40% of your every day vitamin C and 20% of your vitamin A.
  • Cucumbers – Cucumbers are principally water and are a nice hydration supply. They additionally include over 60% of your every day vitamin Ok.
  • Sweet Peppers – Sweet bell peppers are one of many richest dietary sources of vitamin C and include a variety of disease-fighting antioxidants.
  • Green Beans – Are a useful supply of protein, folate, and a variety of different nutritional vitamins and minerals.
  • Carrots – 100g of carrots (or the equal of two small or medium-sized carrots) have almost thrice your every day vitamin A, an necessary nutrient for eye well being and the immune system.
  • Summer Squash – One cup of chopped summer time squash or zucchini comprises nutritional vitamins and minerals reminiscent of vitamin C, riboflavin, B6, and manganese.
  • Onions – Onions include organosulfur compounds, that are antiviral, antibacterial, and anti inflammatory. One onion additionally comprises about 10% of your every day really useful fiber, making them good for intestine well being too.
  • Hot Peppers – Like candy peppers, scorching peppers are excessive in vitamin C and antioxidants. They additionally include over 11% of every day B6 per pepper, which is a important nutrient for the nervous system.
  • Lettuce – Lettuce may not include a lot of protein or energy, but it surely’s surprisingly dense in micronutrients. Most varieties of lettuce are good sources of nutritional vitamins A, C, Ok, and folate.
  • Peas – Peas are a superb supply of plant-based protein and fiber (over ⅓ your RDI of fiber per cup!).
  • Sweet Corn – 100g or about ⅔ cup of corn gives 9.4g of protein, 7.3g of fiber, and is excessive in minerals like magnesium, manganese, and selenium, amongst others.

All of those meals have distinctive and highly effective well being advantages. And they’re all fairly tasty, too!

Seasonal Produce

Along with rising meals that you simply or your loved ones will take pleasure in, and which can be excessive in vitamin, it’s additionally a good concept to examine what crops can do effectively in your area.

The USDA’s seasonal produce information offers a common overview of produce by season. But you can even enter your state and a particular crop you’d like to plant. And this software will let you know when and if it’s ever in season the place you reside. Keep in thoughts, the seasons listed will not be essentially whenever you would plant, however somewhat after they’d be obtainable after harvesting.

Also, when you stay in an space with numerous small native farms, it’s possible you’ll not need to reproduce the crops which you can purchase from them. What’s obtainable domestically is a fairly good indication of what might develop most simply in your area. You might want to focus particularly on much less frequent heirloom varieties. Or on a few of the dearer fruit and veggies that you simply may not purchase repeatedly, on account of their value. But particularly when you’re new to gardening, it by no means hurts to go along with standbys which can be prolific and comparatively straightforward. For instance, many individuals discover that zucchini, tomatoes, onions, and cabbage are particularly straightforward to develop. And there’s nothing like success to construct confidence!

When Should I Plant?

Determining when to plant seeds finally is determined by your planting zone, what season the crop thrives in, and the way lengthy it takes the crop to come to maturity. Most zones ought to plant in spring or early fall. However, there are hardier greens like potatoes and different tubers that may final by the winter in some areas, particularly when you cowl them with layers of insulating mulch earlier than the primary frost. And fruit and veggies that do effectively in scorching climate can typically be planted in the summertime.

If you have already got seed packets at residence, you would possibly discover that a few of them include info reminiscent of hardiness zones, when to plant and harvest, how lengthy they could take to be prepared for harvest, and different necessary rising info that may inform or complement your planting calendar.

The size of time it takes to develop greens varies however can vary wherever from a few weeks to a few months. If your purpose is to present sufficient meals to feed your loved ones repeatedly, it’s all the time greatest to plant as quickly as doable. By following the seed specs, you may give your self the longest doable rising season.

Planting Indoors or Outdoors?

Not all seeds want to or ought to go straight into the bottom or a container backyard. Depending on what you’re planting and your planting zone, beginning indoors in flats or small pots may be a higher possibility. Some crops endure when transplanted. Others profit from germinating indoors in a managed setting. However, there usually aren’t hard-and-fast guidelines about what you can begin indoors versus outdoor. This is when a planting calendar actually turns out to be useful as many present when to sow seeds indoors, when to transplant these seedlings into the soil, or when to sow the seeds instantly into your backyard mattress.


Best and worst seeds to sow indoors
Fix.com Blog

The important good thing about rising seeds indoors is a managed surroundings. Your seedlings will not be on the mercy of Mother Nature and have a higher probability to begin their lives as wholesome crops. Starting seeds indoors permits you to get a head begin on the rising season. This is very useful when you stay in an space with a brief rising season (specifically chilly areas).

Some methods you’ll be able to develop seeds indoors are:

  • By utilizing develop lights
  • Hydroponically
  • In a greenhouse
  • In containers on a sunny windowsill

If you plan to begin indoors after which transplant, plan on beginning your seeds six to eight weeks earlier than you’ll be transplanting them (for spring plantings, transplanting ought to occur solely after the final frost). Remember, some crops don’t like to be disturbed as soon as planted and due to this fact aren’t good candidates for transplanting. Typically, these are underground crops with delicate roots like beets, carrots, and turnips.

After you’ve began your seeds and your seedlings have matured sufficiently, you’ll be able to transplant them instantly into the bottom or proceed to develop them in a container backyard. One trick to transplanting is to be sure to pack the backyard soil tightly across the clump of grime surrounding the seedling. Doing so prevents air pockets that may impede the move of water and vitamins, stopping the delicate younger roots from establishing themselves of their new backyard residence.


In common, seed germination charges are larger, and the method happens quicker, when it’s hotter. Therefore, beginning seeds outdoor is greatest in hotter climates with a longer rising season. Or throughout hotter components of the 12 months in colder planting zones (reminiscent of when planting summer time greens).

When planting outdoor, you’ll be able to sow your seeds instantly or transplant indoor seedlings into the bottom. Seeding straight into the soil is sweet for fast-growing and early season veggies like lettuce, kale, and beans.

If you select the transplant route, ensure the crop you’re selecting is well transplantable. Checking the seed packet or plant calendar will usually offer you this info. When you do transplant crops, nonetheless, it’s a good concept to “harden them off” earlier than planting them straight into the bottom. This consists of steadily exposing the seedlings to out of doors circumstances by slowing down watering and controlling the quantity of sunshine they obtain all through the day. While it could appear counterintuitive, excessively coddled seedlings don’t usually flip into wholesome grownup crops.

Where to Find a Planting Calendar

woman looking at planting calendar on tablet while outdoors

Many completely different plant calendars exist on-line, and so they’re all fairly comparable. So whichever one you employ will turn into a matter of non-public desire. A few glorious choices to begin with, for people in North America, are the Farmer’s Almanac Planting Calendar and The National Gardening Association Planting Calendar.

After you enter your location, these calendars will present you what sorts of crops to plant in both spring or fall, frost dates, and whether or not you must begin seeds indoors or outdoor.

Creating Your Own Planting Calendar

If pen and paper is extra your type, you’ll be able to all the time create your individual planting calendar from scratch. To achieve this, you’ll want:

  • Pen or pencil
  • A paper calendar which you can write on (or draw out your individual)
  • Seed packets
  • Your planting zone

Step 1: Determine your final frost date for spring, primarily based in your planting zone and zip code. You can achieve this by wanting it up on-line, in a gardening e book, or maybe (within the US) by calling your native Cooperative Extension workplace.

Step 2: Mark your frost date on the calendar.

Step three: Next, make a listing of all of the crops you need to plant (and have seed packets for).

Step four: Then, take the seed packets and search for whether or not it’s really useful to begin indoors or outdoor. Write this info subsequent to your listing of crops.

Step 5: From there, you can begin marking in your calendar when to begin or sow your seeds (and when to transplant, if relevant). To achieve this, you’ll want to use your frost date as a marker. And then, you’ll want to add a week or two of buffer (in case of a later than typical frost). For later season crops that can develop into the autumn, you’ll rely backward the variety of days it takes for the crop to attain maturity. And for hotter season crops that you simply’ll plant in springtime, you’ll need to rely ahead. You also can discover this info in your seed packets.

If you’re extra tech-inclined, you can even attempt your hand at creating a plant calendar in your pc. You can use a spreadsheet or on-line template like this one from blogger Better Hens and Gardens.

Happy Planting!

children excited about carrot harvest

Determining what’s greatest to plant when finally is determined by the place you reside (together with some private desire on crops). When it comes to planting calendars, use what’s greatest for you. Try one of many on-line or pen and paper strategies talked about right here, or provide you with your individual.

Just don’t make the proper into the enemy of the great. If you’ll be able to’t do all you need, or don’t have the proper timing, don’t let that cease you from giving some crops a attempt. Remember, frost will kill a lot of crops. So don’t plant too late when you’re in a place with chilly winters. Here’s to the fruits (and veggies) of your labor!

Tell us within the feedback:

  • Have you ever grown or do you plan to develop any of your individual meals?
  • Do you employ a planting calendar?
  • What are your favourite meals to develop?

Featured Image: iStock.com/FatCamera

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