Nothing tastes better than your own homegrown veggies. But it takes time, effort, and a whole lot of planning. But worry not, you can leave the planning to us, and you do the fun stuff.
There’s a wonderfully wide range of vegetables you can grow in your garden in New York. Still, it’s a big state, and the weather across different NY counties varies widely.
While New York City sits in warmer zone 7b, Lake Placid is located in a much colder zone, 4a. USDA zones within the state of New York vary from 7b to 3b, so there’s no particular range of dates you can start vegetable planting in NY.
It all depends on the specific zone you live in, the first and last frost dates, and the average temperatures in your area.
When to Plant Vegetables in New York?
Exact vegetable planting dates depend on the part of NY you reside in. Cold-intolerant spring veggies should be started indoors in Feb and planted outdoors after the last frost date. Start summer veggies in spring and plant them in May-June. Fall veggies are started in July and planted in August.
How to Work with Frost Dates?
The last frost date is when the chances of getting frost are almost 50%. Freeze dates are when the temperature falls below 32°F (0°C), and the ground is frozen. Cold hardy veggies can be planted after the last freeze date, while cold-intolerant veggies are planted 2 weeks after the last frost date.
Residents of NY know how drastically the climatic conditions can vary, only if you take a long drive down from Buffalo to NYC. The highly differing climatic conditions mean that there is no simple vegetable planting guide the whole of New York can follow.
A better alternative, however, would be to plant your veggies in accord with the specific climate, USDA Hardiness Zone, and the average first and last frost dates in your area.
So, before we move on to talk more about which vegetable to grow in a particular season, here’s a brief intro frost dates and how to use them to plan your garden year.
Frost comes and goes gradually. It’s not that one April morning you wake up and see the ground fully covered with frost, and the following day there is none.
Taking this into account, a frost date is defined to be the day on which the chances of the ground being covered in frost are the closest to 50%.
These dates are calculated across all areas of the US through extensive climatic research, sometimes spanning over 30 years by the USDA (US Department of Agriculture).
The first frost date usually comes in late fall. This is the first day of the year the ground experienced more than 50% frost. Vegetables and other frost-intolerant plants will start deteriorating from frost exposure.
The last frost date is early spring. Farmers and vegetable gardeners are usually much more familiar with last frost dates.
The last frost typically marks the day after which it is safe to have young vegetable plants grow outdoors.
Another important date you need to know is the freeze date. This date marks the days when the temperature falls below the 32°F (0°C) mark.
The last freeze date precedes the last frost date, and the first freeze date follows the first frost date. Freeze dates usually determine when the soil freezes or thaws and whether it can be worked or not.
Here are the average first and last frost dates in major regions of New York.
Albany Last Frost Date – 5/24 First Frost Date – 9/19
Buffalo Last Frost Date – 5/20 First Frost Date – 9/23
Lake Placid Last Frost Date – 6/19 First Frost Date – 8/29
New York City Last Frost Date – 4/13 First Frost Date – 10/27
Rochester Last Frost Date – 5/18 First Frost Date – 9/29
Syracuse Last Frost Date – 5/14 First Frost Date – 10/3
Watertown Last Frost Date – 5/22 First Frost Date – 9/21
You must note that although these dates are calculated through extensive research and are based on historical data, there are always chances that the actual frost date differs by a few days from the projected one.
The random difference between frost dates should always be taken into account to be on the safe side when planting vegetables in New York.
When to Plant Spring Vegetables in New York
Some Spring veggies like Tomatoes are started from seed indoors in February and transplanted outdoors in April, two weeks after the last frost date. Some spring vegetable seeds, like lettuce and spinach, can be sown directly into the ground after the soil can be worked.
If you’re reading this article in January or earlier, you’ve come to the right place at just the right time. Spring veggies are not just grown in spring.
The fact is, they are started much earlier before the winter ends to have them grown into healthy plants to be transplanted outdoors after it’s safe to.
Growing spring veggies in NY, in other words, starts off in the winter.
Before the winter has ended, and while the ground is still frozen dead, you can start germinating some of your spring veggies in a warm and protected indoor environment.
This allows you to take full advantage of the time and facilities you have on hand. Starting these plants in the winter and transplanting them outdoors as soon as the weather allows will maximize the fruit yield and bring you spring veggies very early.
While tomatoes are not technically vegetables, they are one of the first fruiting plants that come to mind when thinking of spring vegetables.
Other than tomatoes, here’s is a list of veggies that you should start indoors 40-60 days before the last frost date in your area.
- Brussels Sprouts
The best time to start these vegetables from seed indoors is typically mid-February, but it can be done in March for long-winter locations such as Syracuse, Watertown, or Lake Placid.
Not to worry if you are late in starting these vegetables. Being 15-30 days late is not a big issue. You just won’t be able to enjoy as much yield as you would if you had started on time.
Transplant these vegetable plants outdoors after the last frost date has passed for sure. You can never tell whether frost won’t come after the projected frost date, so keep a two-week safety period between projected dates and the actual date of the plantation.
For gardeners from warmer NY regions such as NYC, not all spring veggies need to be started indoors.
Some hardy vegetable seeds can be sown directly outdoors as soon as the ground can be worked. For instance…
These are particularly hardy vegetables. The seeds can be sown as soon as the ground unfreezes, and you won’t have to worry about the last frost date.
The seeds germinate in the cool and damp soil and will naturally germinate when it’s safe to.
Spring veggies grown directly from seeds have a relatively shorter growing period and will produce in just a few months after sowing.
When to Plant Summer Vegetables In New York
Summer vegetables with a long growing season, like Cucumber and Squash, should be started indoors in March and transplanted outdoors in May or early June. Beans and Carrot seeds can be sowed outdoors at the same time. Summer veggies will continue to grow and produce until temperatures fall in fall.
As the summer warmth starts to intensify in NY, some of your spring vegetables will slow down production and stop producing eventually.
Unlike zones 10-12, the state of New York has relatively shorter summers which means a much shorter growing window for your summer veggies.
To make the best out of the short summertime you have, it is recommended to follow a similar procedure of starting your summer vegetables sometime before you actually plant them.
Ideally, you should start summer vegetables in a warm and humid, greenhouse-like environment indoors in March.
The comfortable indoor temperatures from March to May will allow the vegetables to develop into vigorous plants that can start producing quite quickly after being transplanted outdoors.
Some vegetables to plant in May – June are…
- Sweet Potatoes
- Malabar Spinach
After growing indoors for about 40-60 days, transplant these seed-grown summer veggies out in the garden when the temperature increases further in May and early June.
In warmer regions of New York, summer veggies will continue to grow and produce until August and even September.
On the other hand, the growing window is a bit shorter in colder zones.
You are recommended to sow some summer vegetable seeds directly outdoors. Carrots and beans, for example, can be sown directly into the ground in the May-June period.
When to Plant Fall Vegetables In New York
Fall vegetables are started from seed in mid-July and transplanted outdoors in August and early September. Vegetables with a longer growing season should be planted as early in August as possible to get the maximum yield. Plant growth and vegetable production will stop as soon as the first frost.
Growing vegetables in the New York fall is a unique gardening experience. The fall allows for mild-cool atmospheric temperatures but with warm soil, the perfect combination for growing tasteful vegetables.
The splendid temperature difference below and above the soil surface means the roots will be able to grow well in the warm soil, which in turn means vigorous foliage.
But also, there’s a much-reduced chance of pest infestations after the summers have passed. But there is also the contest between you and the upcoming winter.
Winning the race and being able to secure your fall harvest before the first frost date is one of the most interesting parts of growing fall vegetables in NY.
New York, in general, doesn’t have a very long fall period for you to be able to plant and successfully harvest your vegetables all within the autumn time period.
Usually, fall vegetables are started in what is technically summer. Start fall vegetable seeds in mid-July for them to be transplanted outdoors in August or early September.
Vegetables to be started from seed in mid-July are:
- Bok choy
If you had planted Pumpkins and Winter Squash in the summer, these vegetables would continue to produce until the end of fall.
Some vegetables can be sown directly from seed in early August. These include:
The first frost date in your area marks the end of your vegetable growing season. Better secure all your fall veggies before the first frost is projected.
If exposed to frost, delicate vegetables that grow above the soil surface, like Lettuce and Spinach, will be damaged due to the frost effect.
With the right planning and timely starting and transplanting of your vegetables, you can enjoy a splendid kitchen gardening season this year.
As promised, we’ve done the planning for you, and it’s up to you now to make the most out of this adept vegetable-growing knowledge.
Frequently Asked Questions about Growing Vegetables in NY
What USDA zone is New York in for growing vegetables?
New York does not comprise a single USDA zone, but 4. The colder regions are located in zone 3, while the warmer regions like New York City are in zone 7b. The plant-growing conditions significantly vary across the state of NY.
Can I grow vegetables indoors in winter in NY?
If you have the right growing conditions, preferably a heated greenhouse, you can grow a wide range of vegetables over the winter. These vegetables include but are not limited to garlic, onions, carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, broccoli, and potatoes.
When should I transplant seedlings outdoors in NY?
If the weather outside is suitable and the seedlings have grown strong and large for their seedling trays, it is time to take them out. If the weather is not yet suitable for bringing the seedlings outdoors, transplant them in bigger plastic pots temporarily.
Taking care of houseplants and gardening are my greatest passions. I am transforming my apartment into an urban jungle and am growing veggies in my indoor and outdoor garden year-round.