Planting the Garden
One of the most important elements of success in growing
vegetables is planting, or transplanting, each crop at the time or
times that are best for the operation in each locality.
Temperatures often differ so much between localities not many
miles apart that the best planting dates for some one vegetable
may differ by several days or even 2 weeks.
Vegetable crops may be roughly grouped and sown according to
their hardiness and their temperature requirements. A rough
timetable for planting some of the commoner crops is shown in
table 3, based on the frost-free dates in spring and fall. The
frost-free date in spring is usually 2 to 3 weeks later than the
average date of the last freeze in a locality and is approximately
the date that oak trees leaf out.
The gardener naturally wants to make the first planting of each
vegetable as early as he can without too much danger of its being
damaged by cold. Many vegetables are so hardy to cold that they
can be planted a month or more before the average date of the last
freeze, or about 6 weeks before the frost-free date.
Furthermore, most, if not all, cold-tolerant crops actually
thrive better in cool weather than in hot weather and should not
be planted late in the spring in the southern two-thirds of the
country where summers are hot. Thus, the gardener must time his
planting not only to escape cold but with certain crops also to
escape heat. Some vegetables that will not thrive when planted in
late spring in areas having rather hot summers may be sown in late
summer, however, so that they will make most of their growth in
A gardener anywhere in the United States can determine his own
safe planting dates for different crops by using the maps.
Use maps that show the average dates of the last killing frosts in
spring and the average dates of the first killing frosts in fall.
They are the dates from which planting times can be determined,
and such determinations have been so worked out that any gardener can use them, with only a little trouble,
to find out the planting dates for his locality.
For areas in the Plains region that warm up quickly in the
spring and are subject to dry weather, very early planting is
essential to escape heat and drought. In fact, most of the
cool-season crops do not thrive when spring planted in the
southern part of the Great Plains and southern Texas.
The recommendations for late plantings and for those in the
South for over wintered crops are less exact and less dependable than those for early
planting. Factors other than direct temperature effects�summer
rainfall, for example, and the severity of diseases and insects�often
make success difficult, especially in the Southeast, although some
other areas having the same frost dates are more favorable.
A date about halfway between the two shown in table 5 will
generally be best, although in most areas fair success can be
expected within the entire range of dates shown.
Along the northern half of the Pacific coast, warm-weather
crops should not be planted quite so late as the frost date and
table would indicate.
Although frost comes late, very cool weather prevails for some
time before frost, retarding late growth of crops like sweet corn,
lima beans, and tomatoes.
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