Planting: What, Where, When, How

What: the most common families in your garden

  • tomato family (Solanacea): tomato, potato, eggplant, pepper, tomatillo, ground cherry, peppino, sunberry
  • Beet family (Amaranthacea): Beets, chard, Spinach, Good king henry, quinoa
  • buckwheat family (Polygonaceae): Rhubarb, Sorrel, Dock, buckwheat
  • carrot family (Apiaceae): anise, carrot, celery, cilantro, dill , parsely, parsnip
  • Aster family (Asteraceae): artichoke, lettuce, sunchoke, sunflower, chickory
  • cabbage family (Brassicaceae): cabbage (and derivatives broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale) mustard, cress, horshradish, radish
  • squash fami8ly (Cucurbitaceae): gourds, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, watermellon, Muskmellon
  • Bean & pea family (Fabaceae): Beans (bush beans, pole beans), Runner beans, Cowpeas, Fava beans, Lentil, Chickpea, peas (shell peas, snow peas, snap peas), soy, peanut, mung beans
  • Mint family (Lamiaceae): Basil, Lavender, Mint, Sage
  • Lilly and onion family (Liliaceae): Asparagus, Garlic, Onion, chives
  • Grass family (Poaceae): Corn, wheat, barley, Millet, Rice, Rye, sorghum

Source Material:


  • Soil temperatures,
    • Plant Common cool-season vegetablesas soon as the soil is workable in spring : asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, chives, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, Swiss chard, kale, leek, lettuce, onion, parsnips, peas, radishes, spinach, and turnips. When the air and soil are both above 40 degrees consistently.
    • Plant Common warm-season vegetables after last frost : beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, melons, peppers, zucchini and summer squash, pumpkin and winter squash, sweet potato, tomato, watermelon. When the soil and air is consistently above 60 degrees.
CropLower Development Threshold (degrees F)
Bean, snap50
Sweet corn50+
Sweet potato60

  • zone hardiness:

“Hardiness refers to how well a plant will survive cold temperatures. Where the USDA zones fall short; however, is that they don’t account for other factors. These include freeze dates, freeze-thaw cycles, the effects of snow cover, precipitation, and elevation. ” —

  • frost dates

What are Frost Dates?

frost date is the average date of the last light freeze in spring or the first light freeze in fall.

  • The classification of freeze temperatures is based on their effect on plants:
  • Light freeze: 29° to 32°F (-1.7° to 0°C)—tender plants are killed.
  • Moderate freeze: 25° to 28°F (-3.9° to -2.2°C)—widely destructive to most vegetation.
  • Severe freeze: 24°F (-4.4°C) and colder—heavy damage to most garden plants.

  • Growing Degree Days
    • Growing degree days (GDD), or heat units, are used to estimate the growth and development of certain crops and pests during the growing season. This is an average of high and low temperatures once temperatures are consistently above the crop’s minimum growth temperature. For example corn does not grow at temperatures less than 50 F or any more at temperatures greater than 86 F than they do at temperatures less than 86 F. An 80-day-maturity hybrid requires about 1,950 growing-degree days with normal growing conditions to reach maturity.
  • Growing degree example calculation
    • Day 1:
      Low: 45 F
      High: 65 F
      Average: 50 + 64 = 114/2 = 57
      GDD: 57 – 50 = 7
    • Day 2:
      Low: 48 F
      High: 70 F
      Average: 48 + 70 = 118/2 = 59
      GDD: 59 – 50 = 9
    • Cumulative GDD (CGDD): CGDD: 7 + 9 = 16
  • The number of days to harvest on the packet can be from direct seed or from transplant. Using GDD it is easier to predict when the crop will be ready than just using calendar days. Croptime models assume bare ground production.

Where: microclimates, Rotation, Companions

Microclimates are areas where by color of mulch reflectivity, wall reflectivity, windbreak or other protective feature such as a hoop house or raised bed we create a more suitable environment, usually you can add 2 or 3 weeks to your season with these simple season extension techniques. Croptime ie days to maturity models assume bare ground production. So by increasing temperature you increase growing degree days bringing crops to maturity that would normally take longer or not be possible in our short season climate, or at particular times of the year, such as melons and corn.

Rotation: The rule of thumb is for crop rotations you should never plant the same family in an area more for more than one year. By using cover crops one can refresh or feed the soil and prepare for replanting of a similar or same family. Crop rotations reduce pests and diseases.

Companion plants are groups of plants that when planted together enhance favorable conditions. Allelopathic plants are plants that inhibit other plant families. Examples of Allelopathics are , garlic mustard(general allelopathy), and walnut trees (affects Solanacea family). Companion plants can be broken down into 5 main types depending on your goal.

  • Shade – These plants are any that can cover large areas between taller plants or any that can fill in around other plants and be harvested before the other plants mature.
  • Structure — these typically give shade to shorter plants or structure to climbing plants
  • Aromatics — these are your pest confusers or repellents .
  • Soil — these either fix nitrogen or create cover for the soil with their roots and leaves or these companions utilize different layers of the soil.
  • Trap crops — Your planting these so pests will go to them either because they are less affected or be more desired by the pests that would also attack the plant you would want to harvest Typically these are not directly planted with their companion but nearby if a trap crop. often if this plant becomes infested you will pull and dispose of pests to beak the pest cycle..

Solanum, pototo, tomato, eggplant, ground cherry, tomatillo — pair with aromatics and repellents

chard, beets, spinach, amaranth, lettuce — fill in around support and shade plants pair with aromatics as these do not need full sun

Mustard, radish/Brassica/nasturtium –trap crop, mask smell of other plants or plant with aromatics to from their own pests

Melons/Cukes — ground shade

Squash — ground shade

Corn — support and shade

sunflower — support and shade

Beans, peas — soil enhancer and nitrogen provider

Allium, onions, garlic, shallots, chives — aromatic

Asters, calendula — aromatics

Mint, Basil, oregano, thyme  — aromatics

Carrot, dill, cilantro, parsley, parsnip — aromatics

aromatics repel or confuse pests for their companions

trap crops draw pests away from more important plants

nasturtiums/radish/mustard planted between your cabbage/broccoli will draw aphids away from cabbage/broccoli where they do less dammage

Alliums planted with Cabbage broccoli will repel cabbage loopers

carrot and mint families planted with tomatoes will deter hornworms

Mint and Aster family will deter potato beetles

essentially that is my summary of

Using square foot gardening it is possible to plant the gaps between plants that take longer to harvest, combined with companion planting you add pest deterrent value to the larger crops as you produce food in these gaps.

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