Who doesn't love biting into a sweet, fresh strawberry in the summer or a crispy piece of kale in the fall? There's no doubt in my mind that eating seasonally is a wonderful way to experience the full flavors of fruits and vegetables and to stay connected to the earth. Not only does eating seasonally help create a varied and nutritious diet, it helps remind us of the season of life we're in; no pun intended.
While I love shopping for seasonal produce at the grocery store, it makes me feel like a super hero homemaker when I can make meals for myself and my family using produce grown in my home garden. I’m here to give you two simple tips that will help you reap vegetables (and fruit) from your garden in every season so that you can bask in this awesome feeling too. Don’t worry it’s not too difficult. To get started all it takes is a little planning, a little knowledge about climate and geography, and knowing which produce grows best in cool or warm temperatures.
The 2 Simple Gardening Tips for Gardeners in the U.S.
1.Identify your growing zone using the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.
- Identifying your growing zone will help you identify which plants grow best in your climate and location. Click on the map for more information about your location’s hardiness zone.
- Having lived and grown gardens in two different climates and geographic locations (Colorado and Tennessee), I’ve learned that certain plants grow better in Tennessee than Colorado and vice versa. The climate and geography of the two states is quite different so that makes sense. Select crops for your garden that will grow well in your geographic location.
2. Know which plants are cool weather or warm weather crops. Plan your garden with this knowledge in mind. Seasons vary greatly depending on geographic location. And depending on where you live you may have more time to harvest warm or cool weather crops. A rule of thumb is to know your location’s average first and last frost date and plant your seeds and seedlings accordingly.
Cool Weather Crops/ Spring Harvest Crops
- green onions
- Sugar snap peas
- English peas
- broccoli rabe (rapini)
Warm Weather Crops/ Summer Harvest Crops
- green beans
- honeydew melon
- swiss chard
- yellow summer squash
Warm/ Cool Weather Crops/ Fall Harvest Crops
- squash and pumpkins
Cool/ Cold Weather Crops- Winter Harvest Crops
- mustard and collard greens
- citrus fruits
- brussels sprouts
Check out the Vegetable Planting Schedule page at Urban Farmer if you’re still a little unsure about the best time to to plant and harvest your produce based on your location. They have some great visuals and charts that explain when you should start growing seeds indoors, transfer your seeds to garden, and harvest your produce based on hardiness zones.
You will want to make sure you add compost, fertilizer, and/ or mulch to your soil in between growing seasons to ensure healthy plants. Stay tuned for future tips for creating rich soil for your garden.