Master Gardener: Year-round gardening challenge not as hard as it sounds

Published: Friday, January 24, 2014 at 02:16 PM.

April – June. It is safe to plant warm season crops like cucumbers, tomatoes, southern peas, and lima beans outside after the last average frost date; April 15 for inland areas, March 30 along the immediate coast. A few warm season crops will tolerate near freezing temperatures and can be started a little earlier. These include green beans, sweet corn, squash and zucchini. These crops can be sown in the garden as early as late March; just be prepared to protect them if a late frost is predicted. Other warm season crops are frost sensitive and should not be planted outside until all threat of frost is past. These include melons and okra, which can be set out as transplants or sown direct; peppers, eggplants, and sweet potatoes, which are set as transplants; and peanuts, which are seeded directly into the garden in late April.

July – September. By August, cucumbers and squash have usually succumbed to pests, corn is finished, and disease problems have taken out most tomatoes, though melons are just coming into harvest. Don’t be discouraged, start fresh! Late summer is the time to start crops for the fall garden. Sow seeds of green beans, carrots, beets, swiss chard, kohlrabi, leeks, rutabaga, parsnip, turnips, squash, zucchini, and cucumbers in the garden from mid August to mid September. Tomato transplants for a fall crop can also be planted. Sow broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard, cabbage, lettuce, and spinach seeds in mid August and transplant into the garden in September, or purchase transplants from a garden center. Spinach and lettuce can also be sown direct in the garden in September.

October – December. October is the time to plant garlic from cloves and onion from seeds direct in the garden. Both crops will grow through winter and be ready to harvest in late spring. Late summer planted cucumbers, squash, and tomatoes, as well as any peppers and eggplant that are still hanging on, will continue to product until frost, which usually occurs in early November. Expect hardy crops like collards, kale, and cabbage to produce through December or later. The growing season for less hardy cool season crops like broccoli, lettuce, spinach, and cauliflower can be extended by covering these crops with cold frames or growing them in an unheated tunnel house.

Learn more

To learn more about vegetable gardening, visit where you can submit questions via the ‘Ask an Expert’ link, or contact your local Cooperative Extension center by phone: in Pender County, call 910-259-1238; in New Hanover County, call 910-798-7660; and in Brunswick County call 910-253-2610.


Charlotte D. Glen is the horticulture agent with the Pender County Cooperative Extension of NC State University, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences. She can be reached via e-mail at

1 2

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top

Weather • Surf City, North Carolina