Knowing When to Plant a Garden

Spring will be here very soon! As I am writing this, the sun is shining and the next two days will be near 70 degrees F! Times such as these are a breath of fresh air in the midst of many, many gloomy and cold winter days. As spring approaches, it is time to begin contemplating the garden. What to plant, needed supplies, how much to produce, and so on.

One question that can hinder the new gardener from simply beginning is “When do I need to plant my garden?”

We’ve covered a lot of garden prep topics here on the blog, such as The Basics to Starting Seeds Indoors, A Guide to Caring for Indoor Seedlings, How to Harden Off Seedlings, How to Save Tomato Seeds for Next Year, Using a Grow Light | Seedlings, and much more!

All of this information is very helpful in raising a successful crop, but also no use at all if one does not know when the proper time is to plant a garden. Now it is time to discuss this topic.

Everything you need to know about knowing when to plant a garden is right here. We’ll discuss frost dates, gardening zones (what they are and how to find yours), as well as how to read a seed packet and plan when to plant each variety. You’ll even find more gardening tips and tricks at the very end of this post.

Planning Ahead

The key for knowing when to plant a garden is planning ahead. Here’s how we plan ahead for the gardening season:

  • Ordering seeds early (I like to get mine in December or January).
  • Reading the seed packets and listing which need to be started indoors and which will be planted directly outside.
  • Looking up your last average frost date.
  • Marking the dates for starting seeds indoors on the calendar based on your last average frost.
  • Ensuring you have all the necessary supplies for indoor starts and direct planting (seeds, seed trays, grow lights, heating mats, and space for storage).
  • Setting a date for transplanting seedlings to the garden and planting any remaining seeds.

Know Your Gardening Zone

“Gardeners need a way to compare their garden climates with the climate where a plant is known to grow well. That’s why climate zone maps were created. Zone maps are tools that show where various permanent landscape plants can adapt. If you want a shrub, perennial, or tree to survive and grow year after year, the plant must tolerate year-round conditions in your area, such as the lowest and highest temperatures and the amount and distribution of rainfall.” –

Find your specific gardening zone right here!

Know Your Frost Date

What is a Frost Date?

A frost date is the average date of the last light freeze in spring or the first light freeze in fall.

Finding My Frost Date:

You can check what your last frost date is here. Be sure to transplant seedlings or plant seeds after this date. It does not guarantee the danger of frost has past, but the odds are more favorable.

Read the Seed Packets

Some plants are cool weather crops, meaning that they can be transplanted or planted in the early spring. Other plants should be transplanted or planted in late spring. Seed packets should give you all of this information, so follow the instructions there.


Read books, search through blogs, ask other gardeners (ideally ones in the same general area as you are) for advice. Don’t be too shy to learn from those who have done this much longer than you have. They have a wealth of knowledge just waiting to be shared!

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