Planting Calendar: When to Plant Vegetables

See Planting Dates for Your Location

Find the best dates for planting vegetables and fruit in your garden! Our free planting calendar calculates the best time to start seeds indoors and outdoors, as well as when to plant young plants outside.

What is a Planting Calendar?

Simply put, a planting calendar is a guide that tells you the best time to start planting your garden. Most planting calendars are based on frost dates, which dictate when you should start seeds and when it's safe to plant outdoors. Our planting calendar also shows dates for planting by the Moon (learn more about this technique below).

Lettuce seedlings. Photo by Surachet Khamsuk/Shutterstock.
Photo by Surachet Khamsuk/Shutterstock

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Should You Start Seeds Indoors?

Starting seeds indoors gives your crops a head start on the growing season and the chance to grow in a stable, controlled environment. Outdoors, the unpredictability of rain, drought, low and high temperatures, sunlight, and pests can take a toll on young plants, especially when they're just getting started. Indoors, you can control these elements to maximize your plants' growth and give them the best shot at thriving when they are eventually transplanted outdoors. In regions with a short growing season, starting seeds indoors lets you get a jump on the season and have more time to grow, resulting in a greater harvest. Read more about starting seeds indoors

What is Planting by the Moon?

Planting by the Moon (also called Gardening by the Moon) is a traditional way to help plan your above- and below-ground crops. Here's how it works:

  • Plant annual flowers and vegetables that bear crops above ground during the light, or waxing, of the Moon. In other words, plant from the day the Moon is new until the day it is full.
  • Plant flowering bulbs, biennial and perennial flowers, and vegetables that bear crops below ground during the dark, or waning, of the Moon. In other words, plant from the day after the Moon is full until the day before it is new again.

Old-time farmers swear that this practice results in a larger, tastier harvest, so we've included planting by the Moon dates in our planting calendar, too. Learn more about Planting and Gardening by the Moon.

Tomato seedlings

Which Seeds Should You Start Indoors?

A lot of seeds can be started indoors, but some are better off being sown directly into the garden. Some crops, such as root vegetables, do not transplant well and should be started outdoors. Tomatoes and peppers, on the other hand, can tolerate being transplanted and are typically started indoors. Consult our table, below, to see where other crops are commonly started.

Whether you start seeds indoors or outdoors also depends on the length of your growing season, as well as your climate. In cool regions with shorter growing seasons, most seeds should be started indoors, as they need to get a head start on the growing season and should be protected from potentially-freezing spring temperatures. In warm regions with longer growing seasons, more seeds can be started outdoors, as they don't need as much of a head start on the season and are not in danger of being killed by a spring frost. 

The table below shows which crops are typically started indoors, which are typically started outdoors, and which can be variable. For seed-starting information customized to your location, use our Planting Calendar, above.

Start Indoors Start Outdoors Variable
Broccoli Beets Beans
Brussels Sprouts Carrots Celery
Cabbage Corn Kale
Cauliflower Garlic Spinach
Eggplant Okra  
Lettuce Onions  
Peppers Peas  
Pumpkins Parsnips  
Swiss Chard Potatoes  
Tomatoes Radishes  
Watermelons Squash/Zucchini  
  Sweet Potatoes  

When Should You Start Seeds Indoors?

For most crops, you should start seeds indoors about 6–8 weeks before your last spring frost date. This gives the plants plenty of time to grow large and healthy enough to survive their eventual transplanting to the garden. Consult our Planting Calendar to see the best time to start seeds in your area.

When Should You Transplant Seedlings?

When seedlings have grown too large for their seed trays or starter pots, it's time to transplant. If it's not yet warm enough to plant outdoors, transplant the seedlings to larger plastic or peat pots indoors and continue care. If outdoor conditions allow, start hardening off your seedlings approximately one week before your last frost date, then transplant them into the garden. Get more tips for transplanting seedlings here.

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