So you want to plant a garden…

So here’s the deal. Spring is upon us. It’s wonderful and terrifying. Like any good gardener I am asking myself, “Am I behind?” The answer, of course, is yes. There is so much to be done that should have been completed weeks ago. Yet even in the face of spring adversary, I know that it isn’t too late to have a beautiful vegetable garden this summer. Lately, I’ve seen that I’m not alone in my feelings of seasonal anxiety. I’ve been fielding some questions about how to get ready for summer planting so I thought I would provide you with this basic time-line to put those nerves at ease:

1. Test your soil. It’s a great practice to get into. When you are trying to grow vegetables, first you must “grow” your soil. Eating local food doesn’t do much good if what you consume is bursting with lead contamination, now does it? Additionally, without the right soil texture and nutrients, even the most hearty of plants will languish. Not sure how to go about testing your soil? Check out our Resources page for detailed instructions and recommendations for places to send your samples once they are gathered.

2. Dump on the compost. It is never too early to begin supplementing your growing area with some delicious organic matter.

3. Know your frost dates. In Philadelphia they are approximately April 14th and October 28th. Memorize them; they are your friends. These dates act as guides for when you can start planting your various crops. Look on your seed packets for instructions!

4. Get excited. Your garden will look amazing come summer.

Here is a nice little planting guide for you to follow. The table below reflects traditional rural growing. You can plant most of these crops a good two to three weeks earlier if you are growing in an urban area, simply feeling more adventurous, or if you have the ability to hoop your plants.

Vegetable Planting Guide

Modified from Fedco and Rohrer Seed Catalogs


       
           
Group 1 – (plant as soon as soil dries out in spring)    
distance apart thin to row spacing begin seed indoors estimated planting date
Amaranth 3″ 6″ 18″   5/15
Artichoke 3′   2′   tp late
Arugula 1″ 4″ 18″   4/15 to 8/15
Asparagus 24″   36-48″   tp 3/15 – 5/1
Broccoli 1″ 24-30″ 30″ 2/15 – 3/15 tp 4/1 – 5/1
Brussels Sprouts 1″ 24-30″ 24-30″ 2/15 – 3/15 tp 4/1 – 5/1
Cabbage 1″ 24-30″ 24-30″ 2/15 – 3/15 tp 3/15 – 5/1
Collards 1″ 6-12″ 24-30″ 2/15 – 3/15 tp 4/1 – 5/1
Cress 1″ 4″ 18″   3/15 – 5/1
Kale 1″ 12″ 2′   3/15 – 5/1
Kohlrabi 1″ 24″ 24″ 2/15 – 3/15 tp 4/1 – 5/1
Leek 8″   2′   tp 3/15 – 5/1
Mâche 1/2″ 2″ 18″   3/1 – 8/15
Mustard 1″ 4-6″ 2′   3/1 – 8/15
Onion 4″   12-18″   tp 3/15 – 5/1
Pac Choi 1/2″ 6-12″ 2′   4/15
Pea; snow, snap 1 1/2″   3-5′   3/1 – 5/1
Radish 1/2″ 2″ 18″   3/15 – 5/1
Rutabaga 1/2″ 3-4″ 18″   3/15 – 9/1
Scallion 4″   12-18″   tp 3/15 – 5/1
Spinach 1″ 2″ 12-18″   3/15 – 5/1
         

     
Group 2 distance apart thin to row spacing begin seed indoors estimated planting date
Beet 1″ 2-4″ 12-18″   4/1 – 8/15
Carrot 1/4-1/2″ 1″ 16-24″   4/1 – 8/15
Cauliflower 1″ 30″ 30-36″ 2/15 – 3/15 tp 4/10 – 5/10
Chard 1″ 3″ 18-24″   4/1 – 8/1
Endive 1″ 8″ 18-24″   4/1 – 8/15
Lettuce (leaf) 1/4″ 1′ 12-18″   4/1 – 8/15
Lettuce (head) 1/4″ 1′ 12-18″ 3/1 – 4/1 tp 4/10 – 6/15
Parsley 1/4″ 1″ 12-18″   4/1 – 9/1
Parsnip 1/2″ 2-3″ 12-18″   4/1 – 5/15
Potato   9-12″ 30-36″   tp 4/10 – 5/10
         

   
Group  3 distance apart thin to row spacing begin seed indoors estimated planting date
Bean, Bush, Dry 2″ 3″ 2-3′   5/15 – 7/1
Bean, Fava 4-6″   2-3′   April
Bean, Pole 6/pole 3/pole 3-4′   5/15
Bean, Soy 3″   3′   5/15
Celery/Celeriac 8″   2-3′ 2/15 – 3/10 tp 5/1 – 5/30
Chicory 1′   2′   tp late May
Chinese Cabbage 1/2″ 12-18″ 24-30″ 2/15 – 3/10 tp 5/1 – 5/30
Corn 2-3″ 1′ 3′   5/15 – 7/1
Cucumber 2″ 4″ 4′   5/15 – 7/1
Spinach 1″ 2″ 12-18″   5/5 – 6/20
Squash; summer 6/hill 3/hill 4′   5/15 – 6/15
Radicchio 1″ 8-10″ 18″   late May
Zucchini 6/hill 3/hill 4′   5/5
         

   
Group 4 distance apart thin to row spacing begin seed indoors estimated planting date
Cantaloupe 3/pot 2/hill 5′ 4/1 -5 /1 tp 5/20 – 6/15
Eggplant 20-30″   30-36″ 2/15 – 4/1 tp 5/20 – 6/15
Gourds 6/hill 3/hill 4-6′   5/20 – 6/20
Okra 12″   2-3′ 4/1 – 5/1 tp 5/20 – 6/15
Pepper 12-18″   2-3′ 3/15 – 4/1 tp 5/20 – 6/20
Pumpkin 6/hill 3/hill 6′   5/ 20 – 6/20
Squash; winter 6/hill 3/hill 6′   5/ 20 – 6/20
Tomato 3′   3′ 3/1 – 4/1 tp 5/20 – 6/20
Watermelon 3/pot 2/hill 5′ 4/10 – 5/10 tp 5/20 – 6/20
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