Depending on your climate zone, you can grow some vegetables in the spring, summer, fall or winter. Most vegetables in most zones do best when you plant them in the spring, and then they live, thrive and survive all summer, providing you and your family with their goodness until the first fall frost. If you live in an area that receives only light winter frosts, you can plant many of the cabbage family plants such as broccoli and cauliflower in the fall and enjoy them until January or February. Other crops such as lettuce, bok choy and cilantro prefer cooler temperatures---you can grow them in the fall in mild climate areas as well.
Start seeds of tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, basil and other herbs in small pots or nursery flats indoors in late winter to get a head start on the season. Other vegetables, like zucchini, do best when you plant seeds directly into the ground, so wait until after your final spring frost to plant them.
Provide plenty of natural sunlight or artificial light in the form of grow lights in order to make your seedlings grow strong before you transplant them into the garden.
Transplant young plants into the garden after your final spring frost when they are 4-6 inches tall.
Stake tomatoes to keep the fruit off the ground, and lay down mulch to keep the soil cool and moist.
Plant cooler weather crops like lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, cilantro, broccoli and other cabbage family plants in October if you live in an area that receives only light winter frosts.
Mulch around the base of your plants to keep the soil moist and warm. Grass clippings, compost, raked leaves of many kinds or sawdust make good mulch.
Cover your plants with floating row fabric (sometimes sold as "Remay") or create a shelter with clear plastic to protect plants from frost in order to extend your growing season.
About this Author
Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens" and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to "Big Island Weekly," "Ke Ola" magazine and various websites. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master of Arts from San Jose State University.