african american gardening

How to Grow Your Own Food, Part 2:
When to Plant

An organic farmer offers a growing guide for the best time to plant certain fruits and veggies

by C. Bernard Obie, August 20, 2014

african american gardening

Photo courtesy of


Last week, I shared with you "How to Grow Your Own Food Anywhere". Now that you know the basics of getting your home garden started, you can choose which fruits and vegetables to plant based on the seasons in the growing guide below. If you start this month, you can have your first harvest this fall!  
Fall/Cool-Season Crop Suggestions
(Plants are listed in descending order of cold tolerance. The following plants must be planted in August and 
September for a fall harvest).
Collards, kale, swiss chard, spinach, broccoli, brussel sprouts, radicchio, lettuce, mustards, carrots, beets, turnips, and turnip greens. 
Spring /Cool-Season Crop Suggestions 
(Plant just before or just after the last hard frost for your area. Plants are listed in 
descending order of cold tolerance.)
Potatoes, collards, kale, cabbage, broccoli, mustard, turnips, turnip greens, spinach, english peas, onions, swiss chard, lettuce, and carrots.
Summer/Warm-Season Crop Suggestions
(Safely plant a couple of weeks after the last hard frost date for your area).
Beans (most varieties), cucumbers, tomatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon, okra, summer squash, winter squash, and peppers. 
As you plant, keep in mind these tips: 
1. Weather varies from year-to-year, and from season to season; what you plant this month in 2014 may not be what you can plant in August 2015.
2. The average first and last frost dates for your location may be the best guide for when to plant locally. Unless your plants are ‘frost tolerant’, plant them outside only after the last frost of winter, and gather your harvests before the first frosts of fall. These dates vary, so pay attention to weather reports. Your county ag-specialists will be very familiar with these dates for your region.
3. If you decide to plant outside the frost – date guidelines, be prepared to protect your plants with row-cover fabrics, cloches, etc.
4. Cool-season plants generally do best in cool weather, and suffer in the heat. Warm-season plants generally require warmer soil temperatures for seed 
germination. Planting too soon (or too late), when the soil is cold and wet will result in poor results.
For more help getting started, check out these great sources for seeds, seed-starting supplies, transplants, and more:
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
(540) 894-9480
Johnny’s Selected Seeds
(1-877) 564-6697
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
(417) 924-8917
The Cook’s Garden
(1-800) 457-9703
Seed Savers Exchange
(563) 382-5990

C. Bernard Obie is the steward of Abanitu Organics farm in Roxboro, NC.

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