Pennsylvania boasts 57,900 farms, with 97% family ownership. And for local cultivators, planting time is crucial for having a healthy harvest.
So, when to plant vegetables in Pennsylvania? The best time to sow seeds in Pennsylvania is after the last frost date ends to allow the crops to grow and be harvested in 3 months. In fact, the ideal periods for planting are April 1st – June 1st.
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When to Plant Vegetables in PA?
Having your plants grown in your backyard requires proper planning. Knowing which types of vegetables are suitable for particular seasons is vital.
Some crops thrive in warm months, and some prefer cool weather.
To avoid having poor harvests, it is worth notetaking that planting times for vegetables in Pennsylvania differ across USDA plant hardiness zones as shown below.
And gardening requirements and planting times may vary from one zone to another. Thus, having a Pennsylvania gardening calendar can significantly assist you in your month-by-month gardening.
Here is an in-depth discussion of factors a gardener like you should consider when cultivating a plant garden in PA.
1. Depending on Season and Weather
The growing season is when the climate and environmental conditions are favorable to start a garden. It is when plants have sufficient warmth, sunlight, and moisture to thrive and complete their life cycle, including germination, vegetative growth, flowering, and fruiting.
The length of the growing season varies depending on factors such as location, climate, and specific plant requirements.
- Due to harsh weather conditions, the Pennsylvania growing season lasts four months (about 130 days in the Uplands such as Adams, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Lehigh, York County, etc.
- Lowlands in Pennsylvania usually have a longer growing season of 6-7 months (180 – 210 days), as the winter and summer weather are not extreme.
Generally, in these regions, you can start planting a garden from the beginning of April until the start of June.
And the moment when the first ice crystals form in autumn, from the first of September and the later part of October.
Since Pennsylvania is a massive state in the US, it undergoes four seasons – winter, autumn, spring, and summer. However, the intensity and time of occurrence of these seasons may vary from one city to another.
|City in Pennsylvania||First Frost Date||Last Frost Date|
|Gettysburg||Oct 11 – 20||May 11 – 20|
|Allentown||Oct 11 – 20||May 11 – 20|
|Harrisburg||Oct 21 – 31||May 1 – 10|
|Meadville||Oct 11 – 20||May 11 – 20|
|Johnstown||Oct 11 – 20||May 21 – 31|
|Pittsburgh||Nov 1 – 10||May 1 – 10|
|Philadelphia||Nov 1 – 10||April 21 – 30|
|Scranton||Oct 11 – 20||May 21 – 31|
|Ridgway||Sept 21 – 30||Jun 11 – 20|
|Williamsport||Oct 11 – 20||May 21 – 31|
Frost dates are one of the measures used to determine the best time to start seeds indoors and to transfer them outdoors.
Based on the table, you can plan the sowing and planting date for vegetables after the frost ends, depending on your region.
3. USDA Plant Hardiness Zones
The USDA Plant Hardiness Zones help you understand which plants can grow well in different areas. It’s like a map that divides the country into different zones based on the climate and temperature. Each zone has a number assigned to it.
Pennsylvania has different cities, and each city falls into a specific zone.
This state has three zones – zones 5, 6, and 7. The cities in Zone 5 usually have lower temperatures, while the southern zones, 6 and 7, have higher temperatures.
Here is the Pennsylvania monthly planting guide for each zone:
Remember that each plant has its corresponding timeline in color gradient to know when to plant vegetables in Pennsylvania:
- green – means the best time to grow indoors)
- yellow – indicates the perfect month to transfer the particular veggie outdoors)
- orange – signals that your crops are ready for harvest
Zone 5 Planting Schedule:
For instance, in Zone 5, you can start growing your broccoli indoors during the mid of March. Then, in April, you can still add plants like Brussels, cabbage, and kale to your indoor garden. Yet, your broccoli is ready to be transferred outdoors during the same month.
Your kale needs to be planted outside by May, while you can now plant cucumber and corn indoors. About mid-part of the same month, your broccoli is ready for harvesting.
Zone 6 Planting Schedule:
Zone 7 Planting Schedule:
Which Vegetables Can Grow In Pennsylvania?
1. Hardy Vegetables
Hardy vegetables include the following:
Planting time: Initiate the indoor growth of these plants around 10 weeks before the concluding spring frost in your region.
Then, transfer them to your garden four weeks before that frost date, ensuring the ground temperature remains at a minimum of 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
In USDA Zone 7, the final frost usually occurs between mid-to-late April, while Zone 6 encounters it from early to mid-May.
Zone 5b experiences the last frost in the mid to late part of May, and Zone 5a witnesses it in June.
2. Slow-Grow Vegetables
Slow-grow vegetables include the following:
Start planting them indoors around 8 weeks before the final spring frost in your area.
After that frost date, you can transfer them to your garden. The soil temperature should be at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit when you plant pepper and eggplant seedlings outside, while tomato seedlings can handle temperatures as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Seasonal Vegetables
Pennsylvania has four main seasons: spring, summer, fall, and Winter. Different vegetables grow best during each season due to the specific weather and temperature conditions.
- Spring vegetables
You can plant these vegetables during the early months of the year when the weather starts to warm up, typically from March to May.
Examples of spring vegetables include lettuce, mushrooms, broccoli, and asparagus. It’s best to sow their seeds or transplant seedlings during this time. You can also plant tomatoes during this season, as their growing season lasts until the Winter.
- Summer vegetables
As the weather gets hotter, certain vegetables thrive in August or earlier months.
Summer vegetables include beans, beets, blueberries, and cauliflower.
You can sow their seeds directly in the garden or transplant seedlings during late spring or early summer.
- Fall vegetables
These vegetables prefer cooler temperatures and are ideal for planting during late summer or early fall. Vegetables to plant in September and in October until November in Pennsylvania include plums, pumpkins, and pears.
You can also plant spinach and watermelon. Growing these crops a few weeks before the first frost allows them to mature and be harvested before Winter arrives.
- Winter vegetables
Due to the cold temperatures, Winter is a challenging season for vegetable gardening in Pennsylvania. However, some winter crops in Pennsylvania can be grown with proper protection.
Examples of winter vegetables include turnips, carrots, onions, winter squash, and apples.
These vegetables are usually planted in late summer or early fall, so they can mature and be harvested during the colder months. For instance, you can plant carrots in PA 2 weeks after the last frost.
Deciding when to plant vegetables in Pennsylvania depends on a lot of factors. I hope this post served its purpose: a guide for newbie gardeners in PA.
You can consult Pennsylvania gardening resources for precise planting guidelines based on frost dates, zones, and vegetable types to make a seed planting chart.
Consider local conditions and seek advice for accurate recommendations in your region.
Hi, I am William – Floridayards’ digital content creator. My job is to find answers to all your concerns with thorough research and our team’s expert advice. I will also bring you honest reviews on the best products and equipment for raising your beautiful garden. Please look forward to our work!