The table below shows the best months to plant the seeds of each of a wide variety of vegetables and some herbs. It is not the only months that plantings are possible – just the best months. The current month is highlighted within a green rectangle.
The suggested months are for the planting of seeds. If you want to plant seedlings, refer to the column for 2 months’ prior as 2 months is roughly the time that it takes for a seed to become a seedling ready for planting out. For example, if it is June and you want to plant some seedlings, look at the April column to decide which seedlings to buy.
Click anywhere in the table to view a higher resolution version without the current month highlighted. Alternatively, for printing purposes, here is a pdf version without the current month highlighted. And, finally, here is a spreadsheet version.
For each vegetable, the table shows: which months the seeds* are best planted; how they should be planted (direct, seed trays under cover, etc); how far apart to plant them; the plant’s lifecycle (annual, perennial, etc); how long its seeds are likely to remain viable; its crop rotation group (for those doing crop rotation); and its moon phase planting quarter (for those doing moon phase planting). Note that perennial herbs (such as mint, oregano, thyme, etc) are not included (with Autumn being a good time to plant most of these).
[*‘Seeds’ as opposed to ‘seedlings’, where the latter would typically be a month or two later. ‘Seeds’ here means the things that you normally plant to propagate the plant and includes asparagus crowns, garlic cloves, potatoes, etc.]
As fruity things, cucurbits (cucumbers, etc) and solanums (tomatoes, etc) are heavy feeders. Brassicas (cabbages, etc) are medium feeders. As rooty things, alliums (onions, etc) and umbellifers (carrots, etc) are light feeders. Legumes (beans, etc) are non-feeders (they can fix their own nitrogen). Many leafy greens (lettuce, spinach, silverbeet, etc) don’t have much impact on the soil and can thus be planted anywhere. So, alternating light and heavy feeders, one sensible crop rotation would be:
- Legumes (beans, peas etc).
- Brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, etc).
- Alliums (onions, leeks, etc).
- Cucurbits (cucumber, pumpkin, etc).
- Umbellifers (carrots etc).
- Solanums (tomatoes, potatoes, etc).
This is a 6-year crop rotation. To make it shorter, you have to do one or more of three things:
- Combine some things: so, for example, combine alliums and umbellifers as ‘roots’.
- Omit some things: so, for example, never plant brassicas.
- Plant a cool season crop (e.g. brassicas) followed by a warm season crop (e.g. solanums or cucurbits) into a single bed over the course of a year.
You also have to decide whether the annual rotation should take place in Spring or in Autumn.
For a comprehensive discussion of crop rotation, read Angelo Eliades’ article.
Moon phase planting
Lots of people (including, by anecdote, many farmers) practice moon-phase planting whereby different types of veggie are planted at different times in the moon’s 28-day cycle.
The basic idea/assumption/rationale/sophistry is that one wants root crops to grow downwards, and thus when the upward pull of the moon is lessening, and thus when the moon is waning. By contrast, one wants leafy and fruity crops to grow upwards, and thus when the upward pull of the moon is increasing, and thus when the moon is waxing. This gives the following phasing:
- 1st quarter: leafy – plant crops where one eats the leaves/foliage.
- 2nd quarter: fruits – plant crops where one eats the fruit.
- 3rd quarter: roots – plant root crops.
- 4th quarter: have a rest!