By: Liz Baessler
USDA zone 6 is an excellent climate for growing vegetables. Keep reading to learn more about choosing the best vegetables for zone 6 and planting zone 6 vegetable gardens.
The average last frost date in zone 6 is May 1, and the average first frost date is November 1. These dates will probably vary somewhat for you depending upon where you live in the zone, but regardless, it makes for a pretty long growing season that will accommodate most hot weather plants.
That being said, some annuals need more time, and growing vegetables in zone 6 sometimes requires starting seeds indoors ahead of time. Even vegetables that could technically reach maturity if started outdoors will produce much better and longer if given a head start.
Many hot weather vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and melons will benefit greatly from being started indoors several weeks before the average last frost and then planted out when the temperature rises.
When growing vegetables in zone 6, you can use the long periods of cool weather in spring and fall to your advantage. Some frost hardy vegetables, like kale and parsnips, actually taste much better if they’ve been exposed to a frost or two. Planting them in late summer will get you tasty vegetables long into the autumn. They can also be started in the spring several weeks before the last frost, getting you an early start on the growing season.
Fast growing cool weather crops like radishes, spinach, and lettuce will likely be ready for harvest before you even get your warm weather transplants in the ground.
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The most important factor in planning a vegetable garden is location. Choose a site with full sun, good drainage and no standing water, even after the heaviest rain. Keep the garden away from trees and shrubs, which may compete with vegetables for water, nutrients, and light.
If you cannot identify a location with full sun, leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and spinach, require the least direct sunlight, only 4 to 5 hours. Root vegetables require 5 to 6 hours, and fruiting vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini, require at least 8 hours. No vegetables can grow in total shade.
Some other location issues are ease of access to water for irrigation, tools to maintain your vegetable garden, and proximity to your kitchen to quickly prepare or store your harvest. If deer or other wildlife are in the area you might also need to consider fencing to keep them from damaging your crops.
Once you've decided where the garden will go, it's time to choose which vegetables to grow. First, make a list of those vegetables you like. Next, put a plan down on paper. This will help you make the best use of space and will save time when planting by showing you exactly where to place your seeds and transplants. The plan should include the following information: garden size, space between rows and within rows, crops and varieties, planting dates, seeded crops, and transplanted crops. Consider planning for spring planting of early crops and later plantings for late summer and autumn harvest. Use the table included in this fact sheet to help you plan.
If possible, rotate your crops so similar vegetables are not planted in the same location consecutively. Remember to place your tallest growing crops on the north side of the garden so as not to shade lower growing plants. Also allow for good air movement through the garden. This ensures that moisture on plant leaves dries quickly and may lessen disease problems.
When choosing varieties, always look for ones with disease resistance. Although these varieties may cost more than some of the old standards, they more than make up for the cost with improved yields and less reliance on chemical controls. For more information contact your county Rutgers Cooperative Extension office (listed in the phone book under county government) or visit our website at njaes.rutgers.edu.
A good garden design will save you time and make the best use of limited garden space. Most importantly, vegetables grown under optimal conditions, along with the use of disease-resistant varieties, will result in healthy, high-yielding crops.
|Vegetable||Spacing (in.)||Transplant or Seeds||Planting Dates*||Avg. Yield per 10 ft. of Row|
|In Row||Btwn. Rows|
|Beans, Lima, bush||4||24||seed||Ma,Ju,Jl||6 lb.|
|Beans, Lima, pole||36||36||seed||Ma,Ju,Jl||7 lb.|
|Beans, Snap, bush||4||24||seed||Ma,Ju,Jl||6 lb.|
|Beans, snap., pole||36||24||seed||Ma,Ju,Jl||7 lb.|
|Brussels Sprouts||18||30||transplant||Jl||5 lb.|
|Cabbage, Chinese||12||18||seed or trp.||Ap,Jl||10 heads|
|Chard, Swiss||6||24||seed||Ap,Ma,Ju,Jl,Au||20 plants|
|Corn, Sweet||12||24||seed||Ma,Ju||10 ears|
|Cucumbers||36||30||seed or trp.||Ju,Jl||8 lb.|
|Endive||12||18||seed or trp.||Ap,Ma,Ju,Jl,Au||10 plants|
|Kohlrabi||4||15||seed or trp.||Ap,Ma,Jl,Au||20 bulb.|
|Lettuce,Leaf,Romaine||8||15||seed or trp.||Ap,Ma,Au,Se||15 heads|
|Lettuce, Bibb||6||15||seed or trp.||Ap,Ma,Au,Se||20 heads|
|Muskmelons||36||72||seed or trp.||Ju||8 melons|
|Mustard Greens||12||15||seed||Au||10 lb.|
|Onions, dry||4||15||seed,trp.sets||Ap||10 lb.|
|Squash, bush||24||48||seeds or trp.||Ju,Jl||25 fruit|
|Squash, vine||36||72||seeds or trp.||Ju||20 fruits|
|Sweet Potatoes||12||36||transplants||Ju||12 lb.|
|White Potatoes||12||24||tubers||Ap||18 lb.|
*Mr=March Ap=April Ma=May Ju=June Jl=July Au=August Se=September
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If you’re in Zone 6 then you’re in luck! Planting Zone 6 is known as a mild planting zone with a variety of options for gardening from flowers to fruit to veggies and more. With average minimum temperatures ranging from -10 to 0 degrees F., Zone 6 offers a cool enough environment for cold crops like rhubarb, while heating up in the summertime to create the perfect growing conditions for plants like lettuce, tomatoes, melons and more. Use our helpful planting calendar to find all of the best options for planting and growing vegetables, herbs, fruit and flowers in Zone 6 and beyond!
From the moment you pick it up, you’ll notice these nozzles are different. Designed with mobility in mind, they feature Gilmour’s innovative Swivel Connect. The swivel allows the nozzles to pivot without
As winter marches on, avid gardeners become more and more eager to get growing. While you may not be able to dig your spade into the soil just yet, there is plenty
Hot weather and drought-like conditions don’t mean a beautiful yard and garden is out of reach. Learn everything you need to know about drought tolerant landscaping, including the best type of plants,
For optimum plant health and productivity, most vegetables should receive at least eight hours of full sun each day. The more sun, the better, so it makes sense to locate your garden in the sunniest part of your yard. Avoid low, wet areas where the soil could stay soggy. Because your garden will need to be watered during the growing season, you'll want to have relatively easy access to a hose.
Good soil is the single most important ingredient for a good garden. Raised beds give you an immediate advantage over a regular garden, because when you fill your raised bed, you can fill it with a blend of soil that's superior to the native soil in your yard. Soil that's loose and rich with nutrients and organic matter will allow the roots of your plants to grow freely, and ensure that they have access to the water and nutrients they need to sustain healthy growth.
Before placing your raised beds in their permanent location, be sure to remove grass or perennial weeds from the area. Use a garden fork or shovel to loosen the native soil to a depth of 6-10". This will improve drainage and moisture retention in the raised beds. It also means that even with a 5"-high raised bed, your plants will think they're growing in a bed that's 12-18" deep — plenty of room for carrots, potatoes, full-size tomato plants and most any other vegetable you'd ever want to grow.
If you'll be filling more than one raised bed, you might want to buy your soil in bulk — by the cubic foot or cubic yard. Use the Soil Calculator to figure out the total amount of soil you'll need for each bed. For most situations, we recommend these proportions:
Keep in mind that proportions are approximate because soil volume varies from source to source. For instance, if the calculator specifies .444 cubic yards of soil for your bed, go ahead and buy a half yard.
If you do not have access to quality topsoil, an acceptable substitute would be a 50-50 blend of soilless growing medium (often called "potting soil") and compost. If you want to add peat moss to the bed, it should not be more than 20 percent of the total mix. Peat moss is naturally acidic and is not a good medium for growing vegetables.
|City||Last Frost Date||First Frost Date|
*Based on statistics there is a 10% chance that frost will occur before or after these dates. Watch your local weather for more accurate dates.
Pennsylvania on average has approximately 150 days between the last and first frost. Using the planting schedules below will help you get the most out of your garden.
As a beginner, start by choosing easy vegetables that are also productive. We’ve listed ten easy vegetable below. However, it would also be wise to contact your state’s Cooperative Extension Service to find out what plants grow best in your area. For example, if you live in an area with extremely hot weather, vegetables that prefer cooler temps may struggle.
Top 10 Easy Vegetables
(Tip: Click on a veggie’s name to see its detailed Growing Guide.)
Mix in flowers such as marigolds—which discourage pests, attracts pollinators, and adds some color!
Five tips for choosing vegetables:
If you are simply growing two or three tomato plants, this process is easy. But if you plan to grow a full garden, you need to consider:
Here are a few guidelines for arranging your vegetables:
When to Plant What
Every region has a different planting time based mainly on their weather, and every vegetable has its temperature preferences, too. See the Almanac’s Best Planting Dates—a gardening calendar customized to your local frost dates. Just enter your zip code (or postal code in Canada)!
For specific planting information, see our individual Grow Guides for over 100 popular vegetables, herbs, and fruit. For each crop, we provide specific information about how to plant, grow, and harvest, including watering and fertilizing and pest control!
To help out beginners, we thought that it may be useful to see a garden design. Here is an example of a starter family garden using mainly of the common easy-to-grow vegetables listed above. It also features companion planting (the practice of placing plants that thrive together next to each other).
You’ll see that we have given the garden decent-sized paths and mixed in a few herbs and flowers, too. Frankly, if we had grown this garden in our very first year, we would be thrilled! In planning the garden this way, we have made it so much easier for you to succeed with it.
Click here to see the full plant list, number of plants, spacing, and spacing in rows.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac offers an excellent online garden planning tool which makes your garden planning fun and easy. With this tool, draw your garden plan on the computer and drop in your preferred vegetables, and it automatically calculates the proper spacing for each type of crop! This way, you don’t waste seed or crowd your plants. The Garden Planner automatically pulls in the frost dates for your specific location, identifies easy vegetables, and even identifies companion plants. Then you can print out your plan and the tool reminds you of your seeding and harvesting dates for every vegetable!
Plus, you’ll see many free garden plans for inspiration! Over time, you’ll see that this tool also provides “crop rotation” so that if you plan a second season, you can properly reposition your plants to avoid pests and disease.
With new gardeners in mind, we offer a FREE week to try the Garden Planner—ample time to plan your first garden. Check it out here: http://gardenplanner.almanac.com/
Photo: Almanac Garden Planner. Earth’s most popular tool for planning your garden. Try it free for 7 days.
Any questions or advice about starting your garden? Check out some of the comments below. Many of your questions may have been answered already by our Almanac community or you are welcome to add your own comment. Happy gardening!
When planning your garden, it’s a good idea to incorporate companion planting. It is a system of which plants go together and how to create more beneficial relationships among plants to increase productivity and to repel pests naturally.
By planting certain vegetables, herbs and flowers together, you can allow them to help one another to grow a healthier and more beautiful and abundant garden. ( Via Helen Philips )
This companion planting chart by afristar is a wonderful guide to start with. If you want to dig deeper, there are some great books on companion planting. We have this one: Carrots Love Tomatoes !
Check out this book on Amazon: Carrots Love Tomatoes
Stay tuned for more in our vegetable gardening series!