When Should I Plant Vegetable Starts?

Do you feel like you are falling behind the planting season?  Concerned that you have run out of time to plant your favorite fresh garden crop?

You’re not alone.  The schedule for marketing and selling vegetable plant starts for planting in the garden is targeted very early in the season, far earlier than most people should be planting many of these crops.  This can lead to a rush to plant too early – or to a sense of futile resignation and a decision not to plant this year at all once Memorial Day approaches.

Don’t panic.  The growing season is just getting started.

Unless you have a greenhouse or are willing to invest in smaller weather protection supplies, you should not be putting hot-season crops – tomato, pepper, squash, cucumber, melons, and more – in the ground until mid- May at the earliest, and in some situations even that may be too early.

May 15th marks the last risk of frost in the mid- Willamette Valley, Oregon area, but cool wet soils and chilly nights can slow and weaken these plants significantly.  Most years I don’t start my summer garden planting until the very end of May, and a few years have been cool or wet (or busy) enough to find me planting tomatoes and zucchini in early June. I’ve even had at least moderate success planting cucumbers and bush beans through the end of June.

Traditional cool season crops can still be transplanted right now, though the harvests may be smaller and shorter than earlier plantings would provide.  Beets and broccoli, cauliflower and kale produce fine even when planted in late May, as do peas, radishes, and spinach.

~ Darren Morgan, Shonnard’s Nursery Manager

Spring Edible Gardening Videos

Not sure where or how to start your edible gardening journey? We’re here to help!

Below are a few of our spring edible gardening videos to help you get started, and to address commonly asked growing questions.

Starting a Vegetable Garden – Class Recording

Want to take a deeper dive into planning an edible garden? Watch this class recording to learn from Angelee Kirkland about how to plan, select, prepare, and plant a backyard vegetable garden.

Interested to learn about other edible gardening topics? Check out our Edible Gardening YouTube Playlist.

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