How to Grow More Food with a Custom Planting Schedule

In Wisconsin where I live and garden, my average last frost is around the second week in May. It’s very common for me to hear other gardeners say, “I just go out and plant my whole garden in May.”

Boom! Done. Don’t have to plant anything after that. Just need to sit back and wait for the harvests to start rolling in.

This is not the way I recommend you approach your garden – planting everything at once. If you do, you’re going to grow a lot less food than you could with a better plan.

This way of planting is representative of two big mistakes a lot of gardeners make.

Mistake #1 is waiting too long to plant seeds and plants in spring.

There are many cool season vegetables that can be planted before your average last frost date. They can withstand the light frosts of the early weeks of the growing season, and in fact, these vegetables often thrive in the cooler temperatures.

If you’ve ever had trouble with your arugula, cilantro, spinach, or lettuce bolting within a few weeks of planting them in your garden, it may be because you’re planting too late.

Mistakes #2 is not continuing to plant throughout the season. A technique that’s commonly called succession planting.

In my garden, I usually start planting in my cold frames and low tunnels in early March, continue planting outside in my uncovered garden in mid-April and don’t stop until the beginning of September. That’s about six months of planting both seeds and plants.

This continual planting, or succession planting, will ensure you have a steady harvest of delicious vegetables for as many weeks of the season as possible. I start harvesting in March (from last year’s overwintered spinach) and continue filling my harvest baskets and bowls throughout the spring, summer, and fall, all the way up until the beginning of December. That’s 10 months of harvests!

Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it sounds. Especially if you create a planting schedule for yourself that easily leads you through what to do each week of the spring and early summer.


How to Create a Custom Planting Schedule

Just because I plant in mid-April doesn’t mean you should do the same. Your planting schedule depends on where you live and garden. Mid-April is about four weeks before my average last frost, but your last frost might be earlier or later than mine, so you’d want to adjust your dates according to that.

I’ve created a video that explains more about how to avoid these common mistakes. There’s also a calendar template you can print out to create your own custom planting schedule.

This is one of the most valuable tools you could ever use in the garden! It will help you time your plantings perfectly for your own gardening zone and keep you on track with succession plantings so you can harvest more food for more months of the year.

Watch the video below and get your free template here. Set yourself up for more success than ever before with my how-to video series Digging Into Spring: Taking Action & Getting Better Results in Your Garden. Find out more and watch the preview videos here.





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  • Trish Schweitzer

    That spinach would be great right about now since all spinach is being recalled because of e-coli. Wish I had me some fresh spinach – next year!

  • Hi Karen- I need help and don”t know who else to ask! So, since you posted this, I felt I could ask you without coming at you from outta the blue. I planted lacinato kale seeds in small peat pots and they grew pretty well. They are so long and leggy, though. They still are only a couple of inches tall and they have no breadth to their stems, or whatever they”re called. I don”t have growing lights, but move them around all day to keep them getting some kind of light. Then, I think I made an almost deadly error by giving them water soluble fertilizer. They almost all died, but somehow made it through that. Is there anything I can do to help them grow better? Or should I give up and get plantings from the store. I live in the US in MD and it”s been one cold spring. These seedlings I have are about 3-4 weeks old. Am I just wasting my time? Thanks for any help you can offer!

  • Getting a planting schedule together is such an important point. And staggering. I need to do more of that! Thanks for the post.

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