Which Veggies for Which Season?

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Some vegetables are hardy to frost and even tolerate freezing temperatures.

Collards, cabbage, spinach, and kale are among the most cold-hardy vegetables. You can see the frost on these leaves, which makes them sweeter.

Because a vegetable needs either warm or cool weather, crops sort themselves into two distinct categories: cool season (for spring and fall) and warm season (for summer). Planting in the proper season is the first step to a bountiful garden.

FOR SPRING AND FALL: Plant the hardy and semi-hardy vegetables below in early spring for spring harvests and again in late summer for fall harvests. These transplants should appear in your local garden centers at the right planting time. If you prefer a calendar, each state Extension service usually publishes a guide listing planting dates for all the vegetables. You can search the Web for your state’s calendar or find the contact information for your regional Extension agent.

Hardy vegetables tolerate hard frosts (usually 25 to 28 degrees F). They are good for spring and fall gardens. The hardiest–kale, spinach, and collards–can tolerate temperatures in the low 20s and high teens. All taste best when they mature in cool weather, so they are very well suited to late summer planting for fall harvests. Harvest extends into winter in the Southeast, Southwest, and Pacific Northwest.  See the color coded USDA Frost Map for the median date of the first freeze throughout various regions of the US. This will give you an idea of just exactly how long your harvest season will last, because many of these hardy vegetables will continue in the garden for weeks after the first hard frost. It’s amazing. When you see this, you wonder “why doesn’t everyone plant a fall garden?”

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Collards*
  • English peas
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Mustard greens
  • Parsley
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Turnip
Lettuce and Swiss chard are both semi-hardy and can tolerate some frost.

Lettuce and chard are among the veggies that will grow well in spring and fall, but need to be covered if temperatures dip much below freezing.

Semi-hardy vegetables tolerate light frosts (usually 29 to 32 degrees F) late into fall and through winter in mild climates. They are good for spring and fall gardens.

  • Beets
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Endive
  • Irish potatoes
  • Lettuce and gourmet salad greens
  • Radicchio
  • Rutabaga
  • Salsify
  • Swiss chard*

*Swiss chard and collards taste best in the cool of spring and fall, but will hang on during summer heat, too.

Squash loves the heat of summer. It does not grow well in cool temperatures.

Squash is sensitive to cold, but loves warm summer weather.

FOR SUMMER: Plant these in high spring, after the threat of frost is past. These tender vegetables need warm weather (65 to 90 degrees F) to grow and are killed by frost. They are for summer gardens only (except in the nearly frost-free climates of zones 9b and 10).

  • Beans
  • Corn
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Gourds
  • Melons
  • Okra
  • Peppers
  • Pumpkins
  • Southern peas
  • Summer squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes

14 thoughts on “Which Veggies for Which Season?

  1. I am in central ohio and wanted to know if I need to have already established plants to start planting in a week or so OR can i grow a crop of summer plants by planting seeds? This is only the second time planting.

    • Hello Jodell,
      Whether you can start by seed or by transplants really depends on what you are growing. The benefit of transplants is that you get a 6 – 8 week jump on the growing season. For example, if you start tomatoes by seed now, it will be 6 – 8 weeks before they are ready for your garden. I am attaching the Ohio State University extension Vegetable guide for you so you can see your local planting dates. Good Luck! Glad to hear you are back for a second year! – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

  2. I am growing some Bonnie Chinese cabbage. It looks wonderful and I notice a little flower looking cluster in the middle of the leaves. What kind of Chinese cabbage is this? Will it head like lettuce or do I wait until the flowers come up before I harvest? My first time growing this vegetable. Thank you for your response.

    • Hello Marion,
      Sounds like you are growing the Chinese Napa Cabbage. You can read all about it, here. Chinese cabbage will form a head. If your cabbage is flowering or bolting..that means it is maturing early. Days that warm up too quickly (and the opposite) will trick a cabbage into bolting. Ideally, you will want to harvest before it flowers. – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

  3. I live in north Texas…can I grow carrots here? If so, I have never seen carrot plants to transplant, are they only started from seeds?? thanks!

    • Hi Ellie,
      Yes, you can grow carrots in North Texas. This is a Spring Planting Guide from your state cooperative extension. There is a map with spring planting dates for different regions. Looks like you may be on the cusp for spring planting. Carrots do grow well when direct seeded. Give it a shot and try Oven Roasted Carrots.
      -Danielle, Bonnie Plants

  4. I have sweet potatoes that still are growing and sending out shoots. How long can I keep them in the ground and can I start plants from the shoots now for next year’s season? I am in Pennsylania 30 miles west of Philadelphia. Also, how long can potatoes (red bliss and yukon gold’s) stay in the ground once the “plant” is dead? Thanks for your reply!
    Jen

    • Hi Jen,

      We have tons of info on growing and harvesting sweet potatoes in our How to Grow Sweet Potatoes article. Click on the “Harvest & Storage” tab for more info on when and how to harvest those sweet potatoes. It’s usually just before frost in northern areas. Regarding your traditional potatoes, they can tolerate a light frost but you’ll want to dig them up before a hard frost. Happy growing!

      Kelly, Bonnie Plants

  5. I noitcied carrots were lsited as semi-hardy vegs for fa.. Do i have time to plant carrot seeds for a harvest in the fall in Ky. I imagine not, but am jsut asking. thanks

    • Hi Bob,
      It depends on where precisely you live and your expected frost dates, though with carrots it’s not as worrisome. You do need to get them started now, though. First, you check the dates of your first frost, using this map. That way you will have a guesstimate as to when cold nights will slow the growing process (or damage less hardy plants). Then, look at your seed packet to see how many days it will take your preferred variety of carrots to mature. Some are 55 days, some are 75 days, for instance. You are right on the cusp of being a little tardy, but what do you have to lose? Give it a try! Let us know how it grows. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

  6. what are hybrid plants? can you use the seeds to plant next years flowers and plants? How can I purchase no hybrid seeds?

    • Hi Geraldine,
      Thanks for writing. You ask a great question. Hybrid plants are those that are the result of crossing two different genotypes in parent plants. For instance, if a tomato breeder thinks one plant has fruit with good flavor and another with good disease resistance, he can “breed” the two together to form a new variety. (For the detailed definition, read our hybrid and heirloom definitions in our new Garden Glossary). Saving the seeds of a hybrid is discouraged because the offspring will not be exactly like it’s parent plant. Heirlooms are open-pollinated plants that do come true the next season, so seed-saving is encouraged in those and that is how you hear of folks passing seeds on generation to generation. We tell you in the variety description of tomatoes, for instance, which are heirloom and which are hybrid. Hybrids are nothing to fear though; people have been crossing plants for hundreds of years. I suspect you may be reading about GMO, or genetically modified organisms, which is a different process entirely. We do not use GMO seed. I hope this helps! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

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