Funschooling Homeschool

When to Plant Your Garden

Gardening is a great way to do some “real life” teaching and learning with your children without them even realizing it! It’s also perfect for getting them outside doing some physical exercise in a way that they will enjoy. If you work alongside them, it’s even more fun, and they can see that gardening is something enjoyable and productive. Another benefit is that they’re more likely to want to eat fresh fruits and veggies if they’ve helped grow them! But knowing when to plant your garden is important.

How do you know when to plant your garden?

You’ve got a good plan and vision. So how do you know when to plant your garden?

I begin planting my cold weather crops in early spring. However, planting is an all-year-long occurrence for me. Why? Because some crops are spring and fall and others are summer. In addition, I don’t want to harvest all my carrots, lettuce, or peas all the same week! That’s not practical for my family. I plant each week the amount I want to harvest a later week. Therefore, not everything gets planted at once. Don’t restrict yourself by planting a whole package of seeds at the beginning of the season. Instead, plant in the amounts that you want to harvest and plant them every one to two weeks for continual crops throughout the year.

Timing is important too, so there are a few…

Things to consider before you plant:

This month (in March) it snowed here in Iowa. And the week before it was 70! It’s been a very mild winter, so I plan to start planting my cold crops a bit early. Even with temps that get down below freezing, my cold weather crops should be okay with plastic coverings for nights when it gets below 40. Hearty spring crops can be found on my full Spring Planting List. But here is the short list:

  1. Lettuce
  2. Peas
  3. Oregano
  4. Parsley
  5. Radish
  6. Cabbage

When to Begin PlantingConsider your planting zone.

The most important thing to keep in mind when deciding when to plant is the date of your last frost! Unless you have sun boxes to protect them, most summer crops won’t live through a frost. While determining when the last frost will be isn’t an exact science, you’ll need to know the approximate date, and you’ll want to wait until after that date to set out summer plants.

If a frost is predicted after you’ve set out your plants, you’ll want to do your best to cover them. For small plants, you may be able to use plastic cups (inexpensive disposable plastic cups will work), old milk jugs, or even small pots. Do your best to cover them, and they will probably do fine.

Consider what the plant requires.

What weather does this plant need? What PH soil does it prefer?  Is it a cool-weather crop such as peas, cabbage, and lettuce, or is it a warm-weather crop such as tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers?

Just take each plant into consideration before you plant it. You also need to keep in mind how to space. The best help for me has been Square Foot Gardening. I use this method though I am not extremely strict about it. Even though I don’t apply it very precisely, it is where I have gained most of my knowledge and experience.  My other knowledge has come from trial and error.

My best gardening advice to you is: Never be afraid to make mistakes. Just start the process and learn from it. And have FUN!

More Gardening Information for Your Homeschool

If you’re interested in using your garden as an outdoor classroom, you’ll love this article! You’ll find lots of tips and ideas for how to start gardening, how to incorporate Apologia’s botany curriculum, and even tips on learning God’s Word while gardening. You’ll also see some great pictures of gardens belonging to moms (and their kids!) from the Hip Homeschool Moms Community on Facebook!

About the author

Stephanie Harrington

Stephanie was a military spouse for 20 years and has homeschooled for more than 17 years. She and her husband of 25 years retired from the military and settled in their native state of Iowa where they continue to homeschool their youngest child. Her homeschool style is eclectic with Charlotte Mason and classical influences. She continues to encourage and support homeschoolers through her writings and curriculum development.
When she isn't teaching or writing she enjoys sightseeing, gardening, and cooking.

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