When to start plants outdoors is a question that every new gardener will ask, or at least it’s a question they should be asking!
It all comes down to where you live. We live on the North Carolina coast, in Zone 8A. Our last frost date is April 1 and our first frost date is December 1.
What do first and last frost dates mean?
The last frost date is the last date in which a particular area historically experiences freezing temperatures. The first frost date is the first date after summer when a particular area experiences the first frost of fall or winter.
We have fairly mild weather here in eastern North Carolina, and in fact, where we live, we experience very few days below freezing during any given year. Still, we need to pay attention to those dates and wait and start seeds outdoors when its appropriate for their ideal growing conditions.
So how will I know when to start plants outdoors?
I mentioned above that we are in Zone 8, but even then, what about specific plants? How will I know when I can plant carrots? Or corn? Or tomatoes? Or squash?
Thankfully, North Carolina State University has produced a great resource for everyone across this beautiful state to know when we can plant a wide variety of fruits and vegetables outside, both from seed, as well as from plants that were started indoors. Here is the information specific to me here in eastern North Carolina. There is a downloadable PDF available on that same page.
For resources for other regions of the state (central and western NC), as well as general vegetable garden resources, click here.
Every state in the country is going to have at least one university equivalent for ideal planting times for different crops for your area. I recommend you do a Google search for a phrase like North Carolina vegetable planting calendar, but replace North Carolina with your state.
If by some off chance you don’t come up with good results that way, pop on over to the Farmer’s Almanac site and enter your location here. They’ll provide you with detailed information about planting in your area.
Start a garden now
If you haven’t already started a garden for 2021, it’s not to late to start! Watch this video and learn why it’s important to not put off this valuable skill.
Then visit the garden category for some helpful articles that can be of benefit to everyone, no matter where you live. See posts below the video.