When to Plant Vegetables in Santa Cruz, CA

Your vegetable planning guide for
Santa Cruz, CA

On average, your frost-free growing season starts Mar 4 and ends Nov 24, totalling 265 days. You will find both Spring and Fall planting guides on this page.

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For the Spring:
Your planting strategy:
Cole crops like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage can be direct seeded into your garden around January 22, assuming the ground can be worked, but it's better to start them indoors around December 25 and then transplant them into the garden around February 13. Do the same with lettuce and spinach.

Plant onion starts and potatoes around January 4. Sow the seeds of peas (sugar snap and english) at the same time. If the ground is still frozen, then plant these as soon as the ground thaws.

Do you want to grow tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants? Start these indoors around December 25. Then, around February 29 you should start watching the weather forecast and, as soon as no frost is forecast, go ahead and transplant those into the ground.

Now, for all the summer vegetables like beans, cowpeas, corn, squashes, pumpkins, cucumbers, watermelons, gourds and sunflowers, you should plant those seeds directly into the ground around March 4, or if your soil is still very cold, once the soil is near 60° F in temperature.

Okay, now here are the cold, hard numbers, along with specific plants:

Crop Sow seeds indoors Transplant seedlings into the garden Direct sow seeds
Asparagus n/a Jan 19 - Feb 3 n/a
Beans n/a n/a Mar 4 - Apr 1
Beets n/a n/a Jan 8 - Jan 22
Broccoli Dec 25 - Jan 8 Feb 5 - Feb 19 n/a
Brussel Sprouts Dec 25 - Jan 8 Feb 5 - Feb 19 n/a
Cabbage Dec 25 - Jan 8 Feb 5 - Feb 19 n/a
Cantaloupe n/a n/a Feb 19 - Mar 4
Carrots n/a n/a Jan 22 - Feb 19
Cauliflower Dec 25 - Jan 8 Feb 5 - Feb 19 n/a
Chard n/a n/a Jan 22 - Feb 5
Collards Dec 25 - Jan 8 Feb 5 - Feb 19 n/a
Corn n/a n/a Mar 4 - Mar 18
Cucumbers n/a n/a Mar 4 - Mar 18
Eggplants Dec 25 - Jan 8 Mar 4 - Mar 18 n/a
Gourds, Squash and Pumpkins n/a n/a Mar 4 - Mar 18
Kale Dec 25 - Jan 8 Feb 5 - Feb 19 n/a
Kohlrabi Dec 25 - Jan 8 Feb 5 - Feb 19 n/a
Lettuce Dec 25 - Jan 8 Jan 22 - Feb 19 Jan 22 - Feb 19
Mustard Dec 25 - Jan 8 Feb 5 - Feb 19 n/a
Okra n/a n/a Mar 4 - Mar 18
Onions Dec 18 - Dec 25 Jan 4 - Feb 3 n/a
Peas (English) n/a n/a Jan 4 - Feb 3
Peas (Southern) n/a n/a Mar 4 - Apr 1
Peas (Sugar Snap) n/a n/a Jan 4 - Feb 3
Peppers Dec 25 - Jan 8 Mar 4 - Mar 18 n/a
Potatoes n/a n/a Jan 4 - Feb 3
Radishes n/a n/a Jan 19 - Mar 18
Spinach Dec 25 - Jan 8 Feb 5 - Feb 19 Jan 19 - Feb 19
Sweet Potatoes n/a Mar 4 - Mar 25 n/a
Tomatoes Dec 25 - Jan 8 Mar 4 - Mar 18 n/a
Watermelon n/a n/a Mar 4 - Mar 18

For the Fall:
Your fall planting strategy:
Gardening in the fall can be much more challenging than spring planting, because you are in a race to get your crops mature and harvested before the winter frosts begin, around November 24. This means you need to consider how much time each variety needs between planting and picking. Those numbers vary widely between different varieties of the same kinds of plants! Usually the "Days to Harvest" are present on the seed packet.

Most tomatoes, peppers and eggplants, for example, require around 100 days to harvest, therefore you'd want to transplant those into the ground around August 16. Anyway, it's important to remember that the numbers in this fall planting guide are only a starting point for you! Good luck and good gardening to you.

Fall is the time to plant garlic. Around October 10, take your cloves apart and plant the toes about 3 to 4 inches deep. This may not be accurate! Garlic dates vary wildly around the country. The way to be sure is to use a soil thermometer. When the soil temperature is 60° at a depth of 4 inches, then plant your garlic.

Cole crops like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage can be direct seeded into your garden around September 15, but because of the heat during that time of year, it's better to start them indoors around July 27 and then transplant them into the garden around September 5. Do the same with lettuce and spinach.

Sow peas directly around September 10.

Now, for all the usual hot weather veggies like beans, cowpeas, corn, squashes, pumpkins, cucumbers, watermelons, gourds and sunflowers, you should plant those seeds directly into the ground around August 11.

Okay, now here are the cold, hard numbers, along with specific plants:

Crop Sow seeds indoors Transplant seedlings into the garden Direct sow seeds
Beans n/a n/a Aug 11 - Sep 10
Beets n/a n/a Sep 10 - Oct 25
Broccoli Jun 30 - Aug 14 Aug 11 - Sep 25 n/a
Brussel Sprouts Jun 30 - Aug 14 Aug 11 - Sep 25 n/a
Cabbage Jun 30 - Aug 14 Aug 11 - Sep 25 n/a
Cantaloupe n/a n/a Jul 27 - Aug 11
Carrots n/a n/a Aug 26 - Oct 25
Cauliflower Jun 30 - Aug 14 Aug 11 - Sep 25 n/a
Chard n/a n/a Aug 11 - Oct 25
Collards Jul 27 - Sep 10 Aug 26 - Oct 10 n/a
Corn n/a n/a Aug 11 - Aug 26
Cucumbers n/a n/a Aug 11 - Aug 26
Eggplants Jun 15 - Jun 30 Jul 27 - Aug 11 n/a
Garlic n/a n/a Sep 10 - Oct 25
Gourds, Squash and Pumpkins n/a n/a Jul 12 - Aug 11
Kale Jun 30 - Aug 14 Aug 11 - Sep 25 n/a
Kohlrabi Jun 30 - Aug 14 Aug 11 - Sep 25 n/a
Lettuce Aug 26 - Sep 25 Sep 25 - Oct 25 Sep 25 - Oct 25
Mustard n/a n/a Sep 25 - Oct 25
Okra n/a n/a Jul 12 - Aug 11
Onions n/a n/a Oct 25 - Nov 4
Parsley Jul 12 - Aug 26 Aug 26 - Oct 10 n/a
Peas (English) n/a n/a Aug 26 - Sep 25
Peas (Southern) n/a n/a Jul 12 - Aug 11
Peas (Sugar Snap) n/a n/a Aug 26 - Sep 25
Peppers Jun 20 - Jul 5 Aug 1 - Aug 16 n/a
Potatoes n/a n/a Aug 26 - Sep 25
Radishes n/a n/a Sep 25 - Oct 25
Spinach Aug 11 - Sep 25 Sep 10 - Oct 25 Sep 10 - Oct 25
Tomatoes Jun 20 - Jul 5 Aug 1 - Aug 16 n/a
Turnips n/a n/a Oct 10 - Nov 9
Watermelon n/a n/a Jul 12 - Aug 11

How accurate is all this? For nearly all locations, we are confident in the dates. There are, however, some difficult areas of the world that don't match up perfectly with the dates we have given. For that reason, we recommend you use this guide as a very good starting place, but don't interpret the dates as absolutely perfect for every location.

Did you find this useful? Garden.org has a vast array of useful features. May we recommend that you take a look at our excellent food gardening guide?
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