Tennessee is located in U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 6 and 7, where temperatures may drop to -10 in the winters. Much of the state is buffered by the Appalachian mountains. Gardeners in this area may have to content with inconsistent weather as cold, arctic air battles with warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico. There is a small pocket at the base of the Appalachians, including Knoxville, that has more consistent weather and better opportunities for gardening.
Vegetables grow well throughout the state during the spring, summer and fall. When to plant depends largely on location, as most vegetable seeds should be planted after last frost and harvested before the first frost.
A perennial vegetable, asparagus takes two to three years to reach full size and harvest, but will produce vegetables annually, so select a permanent spot for your plants. When first planting in Tennessee, seedlings should be planted in winter in milder regions and spring in colder areas, and plants should be ready for harvest between April and July. Asparagus should be planted in 6-inch to 8-inch inch deep trenches, filled with nutrient-rich soil and get plenty of water to keep the roots wet.
Asparagus should be planted in full sun and may be used as a back border in flower or vegetable gardens or along a fence.
Considered one of the easiest plants to grow, radishes are also one of the fastest-growing. Mature vegetables may be harvested as little as three weeks after sowing seeds. In Tennessee, radishes should be planted as soon as the ground is workable and harvested before the warm summer, as heat will cause the plants to go to seed.
Radishes should be planted in moist, nutrient-rich soil and will thrive in full sun to light shade. These plants also require loose soil, so the roots will have room to grow and have a smooth skin.
A good fall crop in Tennessee, spinach thrive in cool weather and moist soil. Spinach should be planted after the heat of the summer, usually between Aug. 15 to Sept. 15, in most of the state. This plant will produce leafy greens that may be ready to harvest in as few as six weeks after sowing seed.
Spinach plants thrive in organically rich, well-draining soil and should be planted in full sun.