Backyard Garden Calendar

The backyard garden calendar discusses garden tasks and trends in your planting zones. 

Gardening is a year-round activity. When we are not actively planting and harvesting, we are planning and preparing.

Planning your garden calendar

The planning stage of your garden calendar is done in January in all zones north of zone 10. In zone 10, you are in the middle of planting and harvesting. The planning stage in 10 would be in the middle of summer.

What will you plant? 

  • Cuddle up by the fire with a new seed catalog. 
  • Decide which vegetables you would like to grow.
  • Make a list. 
  • Add some marigolds to plant among the vegetables. 
  • Consider planting a garden for the butterflies. 
  • Add some flower beds

Now, with your list in hand, decide which will be grown from seed and which will be purchased already started at the garden center. 

And where will you plant it?

  • On a large piece of paper, draw your garden beds--those already in place and those you intend to build.
  • Do they get enough sun? At least six hour is minimal. Determine which plants need all day sun and which can survive with some shade. For example, sweet corn wants all day sun and hot weather. Tomatoes might enjoy a little afternoon shade on hot days. 
  • Where will ornamental flowers go.
  • Which beds will need cages, trellis', protection from wildlife, covers for early planting.
  • Make a list of needed purchases.


Fall would have been the ideal time to get the beds ready for spring. If that didn't happen, it can still be done before planting time. Use those warmer days it late winter to get ready.

  • From last years beds pull old plants and turn the soil. Add compost and turn again. If soil is not ideal, go to organic soil for instructions. 
  • If more garden beds are needed, find out how to build them. 
  • Inspect all gardening tools. Clean, sharpen, or replace.
  • If needed, buy new garden cages, trellis', soil, bird netting, ground covers.


Planting  can begin as early as February in some zones, or as late as mid-April in others.

In the extreme northern zones, (1, 2, and 3) you can expect possible frost year round. With care, plants can be grown in the summer months. 

In Zone 10 (and higher outside the country) the best growing season in in the winter months. 

 Plant Hardiness Chart 

The Plant Hardiness Chart is your guide to the proper time for planting your favorite vegetables. 

Plant hardiness is divided into five categories :

  1. Hardy
  2. Half-Hardy
  3. Tender
  4. Half-Tender
  5. Very Tender

You need to know the date of the average date of the last frost in your area. 

  • For hardy plants. plant outdoors 30 days before the last frost date.
  • For half-hardy, plant 15 days before the last frost date
  • For tender plants. plant on or after the last frost date.
  • For half-tender, plant two weeks past the frost date
  • For very tender, plant a good 30 days past the frost date, giving the soil plenty of time to warm up.

Hardy Plants

  • asparagus
  • rhubarb
  • broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • cabbage
  • Chinese cabbage
  • garlic
  • horseradish
  • kale
  • kohlrabi
  • mustard
  • onion
  • peas
  • radish
  • rutabaga
  • turnips

Half-Hardy Plants

  • beets
  • carrots
  • cauliflower
  • lettuce
  • parsley
  • parsnip
  • potatoes
  • salsify
  • spinach

Tender Plants

  • beans snap
  • beans lima
  • 0kra
  • peppers
  • sweet corn
  • tomato

Half-Tender Plants

  • pumpkin
  • Swiss Chard

Very Tender Plants

  • cucumbers
  • eggplant
  • muskmelon
  • cantaloupe
  • summer squash
  • winter squash
  • sweet potatoes
  • watermelon

Your garden calendar should include plans for starting seeds indoors Plant them 30 days before you intend to transplant outside.

With garden covers, they can be started even earlier. Find out how.

Planting Zones in the Contiguous USA

(See map above.)

Zone 3 International Fall Minnesota, edges of states bordering Canada, Rocky Mountain tops, mountain tops in New England.

Zone 4 Duluth and Minneapolis area in Minnesota, much of Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, Northern half of South Dakota, northern New England and Great Lakes States, Rocky Mountain areas in Colorado.

Zone 5: Much of Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin, southern South Dakato.

Zone 6: A belt of states around the middle of the US, starting in Massachusitts, through Kansas,spotty moving west through Colorado, Utah. Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.

Zone 7: A belt below zone 6, starting in New Jersy, through the Texas panhandle, and spotty through the western states all the way to the Canadian border of Washington.

Zone 8: Covering the southern states from North Carolina through middle Texas, and spotty through New Mexico, Arizona, California, western Oregon and Washington

Zone 9: Much of Florida, southern Louisiana and Texas, much of California, southern coastal Oregon and Washington.

Zone 10: Winter snow bird areas; the tip of Florida, Rio Grand Valley at the tip of Texas, Phoenix, Yuma, Arizona, and southern tip of California. 

The backyard garden calendar discusses garden tasks and trends in your planting zones. Join the discussion.

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