Question of the Week: March 31, 2022

“I’m just now getting around to planting lettuce, green beans, carrots, tomatoes and potatoes. Will they all do OK, or did I miss some of them?”

I’ve had variations of this question on and off almost every day for the past two weeks. The cold weekends of late February and early March caused a lot of people to fall behind.

The answer to this specific question is that the reader is too late for some and right on time for others, but it depends on where he or she gardens. (Keep reading!)

The problem comes in giving specific answers that cover the entire state of Texas. If gardeners don’t read these notes carefully they can make some serious mistakes.

Vegetable crops – each and every one of them – have very narrow windows of timing during which they must be planted.

If you are too early cold spells will get the crops.

If you are too late hot weather will cause the produce to be off-flavor, often bitter or hot.

Continued Below

So, how does a gardener figure it out?
The easiest way to determine the best planting date is to relate it to the average date of the last killing freeze for your area. That’s a pretty well-known date for any part of Texas. I’ll leave that up to you to find for your city – ask Siri and you can usually get a quick answer for your specific town.

That said, I’m going to steal from my own book, Neil Sperry’s Lone Star Gardening, (click for special offer) and give you the planting date by number of weeks before (shown by a minus sign -) or after (shown by a plus sign +) the average date of the last killing freeze. These figures are just part of a much more comprehensive chart giving all manners of planting details for your vegetables.

Note: You’re going to see that the majority of our vegetable crops should already have been planted in most parts of Texas. It’s best to accept the fact that you’ve missed out on the early ones and not try to beat the odds. Hot weather is rather predictable here in Texas, and it is the nemesis for these crops. Go with types that still have a good chance of success.

Asparagus -8
Beans (green) 0 to +2
Beets -4 to -2
Broccoli -6 to -4
Brussels sprouts -6 to -4
Cabbage -6 to -4
Carrots -4 to -2
Cauliflower -6 to -4
Chard, Swiss -6 to -4
Collards -6 to -4
Corn 0 to +2
Cucumbers 0 to +2
Eggplants +2 to +4
Garlic fall
Horseradish -4 to -2
Kale -6 to -4
Kohlrabi -6 to -4
Lettuce -4 to -2
Melons 0 to +2
Mustard greens -4 to -2
Okra +4
Onions -8 to -6
Peppers +2 to +4
Potatoes, Irish -6 to -4
Pumpkins 0 to +2
Radishes -4 to -2
Southern peas +4 to +6
Spinach -4 to -2
Squash 0 to +2
Sugar Snap peas -8 to -6
Sweet potatoes +4 to +6
Tomatoes 0 to +2
Turnips -4 to -2

(c) Neil Sperry’s e-gardens

Posted by Neil Sperry
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