Working with the growing season
Calculating the length of your vegetable-growing season and tips on how to extend it
Once you’ve chosen a site and decided which vegetables it can accommodate, you’ll need to consider climate and length of growing season before making your final choice of which vegetables to plant.
To calculate the length of your growing season, count the number of days between the average last-frost date in spring and the first-frost date in fall (your Cooperative Extension Office or a local nursery can give you these dates).
Last-frost dates let you know when it’s safe to set out tender vegetable plants or sow seeds; first-frost dates tell you when you’ll probably have to provide protection for tender kinds late in the season. Aim to select vegetables that can mature and bear a good crop in the interval between these two dates. For example, if the seed packet says a certain variety of winter squash requires 120 days from seed to harvest but your growing season lasts only 100 days, look instead for a variety adapted to short growing seasons; or plan to use season-extending techniques.