Gardening is one of the most rewarding hobbies you can have. Growing your own food and flowers in a space that you created is an amazing feeling. To get started on the right foot, it’s important to know what month will give you the best results for planting certain types of plants. So let’s answer the question, what month should you start a garden?
The first time I tried gardening, I had no idea what I was doing. I grabbed a pack of seeds at the farm store and just went to town sowing them all over the place. It didn’t work out so well… I didn’t even think about what month should you start a garden! I just started.
It wasn’t a bad decision though. Even in failure, you learn. For example, my problem was that I was following advice from gardeners who lived in the southern United States, while I live in Pennsylvania! It’s a totally different growing zone. I considered what month should you start a garden, but not what month you should start a garden in my area. So their advice on growing a fall garden totally worked for them, but my growing season was much shorter and it didn’t give my crops enough time to fully develop. So, I ended up with carrots that looked like golf tees. Seriously, check these out:
Those are some pretty sad carrots, huh? If I would have considered what month should you start a garden, I would have had so much more success. But you live you learn, and now you get to learn from my mistakes. So let’s discuss where I went wrong and how you as a beginner gardener, or even a pro, can choose the best time to plant a garden for better results.
If you are brand new to gardening, you might want to check out this post first all about starting a garden from scratch if you’re wondering how do I start a garden. And just a heads up that this article might contain affiliate links, which means I get a small commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase an item I link to.
When should I start getting my garden ready?
The answer to this really depends on what kind of garden you want to start. I outlined a few of the options in this post, but for simplicity, I will describe how I prepped my garden this year to give you an idea.
I use a no dig gardening method, which basically consists of laying down cardboard or a few layers of newspaper or kraft paper where I want to start a garden bed. Then I will add a few layers of compost before planting my seeds and plants, followed by a few inches of wood chips. I use this method because it helps a lot of with getting rid of and preventing weeds, and it has worked really well for me in growing beautiful and fruitful plants in the past. Plus, you avoid a lot of the hard work of tilling.
This year I was greatly expanding my garden, which meant a lot of my beds were going to be started from scratch. I’m in zone 6b where our last frost date is around the last week of April.
When I first started my no dig garden, and also when I expanded it this year, I did most of the prep work in March. Because when considering what month should you start a garden for me, I wanted my garden ready by mid-April. The majority of crops I plant aren’t sown or transplanted until April or May. So starting in March gave me plenty of time to get my spaces ready.
However, if you live in a zone that has a warmer climate than I do, you might want to start prepping earlier so you’ll be ready to plant ASAP when the weather allows. On the flipside, if you live in a cooler climate, then you have a little more time to play with when establishing your garden.
To find out your zone and last frost date, you can use the Farmer’s Almanac tool.
What are the benefits of starting a garden in the springtime?
Spring is the best time to start a garden. Why? Because as soon as the weather starts to warm up a little bit, you can get your seeds sown and plants planted, then you have the entire summer and part of fall to let your veggies (and fruits) grow. It gives you the longest window of growing time possible to get the biggest and best yield.
But just because the calendar says it’s spring, doesn’t mean you can just start making it rain with seeds out there. Depending on where you live, you’ll have a different date when you will want to start planting. Many plants and seeds can’t be planted outside until after the last frost date in your area.
How to start a garden in the fall
Spring might be the best and most traditional time to start a garden, but depending on where you live and what you want to grow, you can totally try a fall garden too! Just note that usually a fall garden isn’t planted in the fall, but is rather planted in summer for a fall harvest. So in this case what month should you start a garden might be in July depending on your zone.
The plants that you can grow in the fall will be different than those in the spring for most areas. If you live in most areas in the U.S. for example, you’ll want to ensure that you choose fruits and vegetables that can handle cooler temps and still produce a harvest for you.
You can look for seed collections like this one that curates cool weather crops, or you can do a little digging (pun intended) through your favorite seed and plant companies to see which they would recommend for a fall garden. You will want to look for a few things when deciding which seeds or plants work best for your area when planting a fall garden.
First, what is your first frost date? Knowing your first frost date is a must when discovering what month should you start a garden. This is when your area typically will have the first frost that can kill a lot of frost-tender plants like tomatoes or beans. You can use the Farmer’s Almanac again to find this date.
Next, check out the growing time and temperatures for the vegetables you want to plant. You can find out this information on the seed packets, or on the listings on the website, you’re buying from. For example, these rainbow carrots tell you when you can plant and the zones they are good for.
In general, the types of plants that work for a fall garden in many zones are vegetables like beets, radishes, lettuces, turnips, leeks, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and more! Look mostly for root vegetables and brassicas.
When should you plant your seeds for an early summer harvest?
Before asking what month should you start a garden in this case, start by asking what to plant for an early summer harvest. Different plants require different amounts of time until they reach maturity.
Vegetables like radishes can be harvest in a much shorter period of time than tomatoes or peppers (and can be planted while it’s still cool outside). Lettuces can also be planted while it is still cool out and harvested early as baby greens. Seed listing and packets should give you the temperatures and time it takes to grow each vegetable.
You can also start your seeds indoors while the weather is still too cool for some vegetables like tomatoes. You can plant your seeds in a seed starting tray and place them in a warm and sunny spot in your home, like by a big window that gets lots of light. Some people also use grow lights and warming mats if they don’t have a warm or sunny enough spot.
What Month Should You Start a Garden?
It is essential to check your zone and last frost date to know for sure what month should you start a garden. But generally, what month should you start a garden will be in the springtime. Most of the U.S. will be starting gardens around March-May.
But if you missed your window, don’t sweat! Try a fall garden, or you can even start a garden inside. There are lots of cool kits for growing hydroponic gardens indoors. I even have a huge hydroponic basil plant on my kitchen windowsill that is growing like a weed!
With the right planning, you can have a thriving garden in as little as a month. But if you want to take advantage of your backyard space as much as possible and get some fresh produce out of it this summer, you may want to plant at the right time! You don’t need more than an hour or two per week to maintain a small vegetable patch that will provide plenty of tasty food all season long.
But the answer to what month should you start a garden is a little complex and depends on where you live. No matter where you live, though the best time is always now! You can make anything work.
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