What is YOUR color?

square foot gardening new flower mediumThe Struggle

Trying to explain when to prepare your garden, start seeds inside, and plant outside is so confusing! That is because the timing is different for each location. When to plant is all based on your “last frost date”. This is the average date of the last spring frost in your area.  After this date it is generally safe to transplant frost-sensitive plants and seeds.

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE IN A CHARLIE BROWN CARTOON, AND I JUST SAID “WAH, WAP, WAH, WO, WAH?” That’s because this is CONFUSING!!! Don’t worry, I’ve made it simple!

A Simple, Easy Way

In hopes of making it simpler, I have created the Planting By Color system. It’s SO EASY!!! Then check Planting By Color website for your color group’s schedule, and find out what you plant, week by week.

Keep in mind that these groups include a 2-week span, and are based on average temperatures. You may still need to adjust your planting times depending on weather–if you’ve had an extended winter, you may want to wait longer. If you’ve had a mild winter and an early spring, you may want to plant a little sooner.

Find Your Color By Location

Here is a list of locations–these are weather stations, not necessarily the largest cities or towns. Many times you’ll see AP, which means airport. Look through the entire section for your state and find the CLOSEST location with the MOST SIMILAR weather patterns.

Find Your Color By Frost Date

Spring Color Dates Spring Color Dates
White Group February 14-28 Yellow Group April 16-30
Pink Group March 1-15 Green Group May 1-15
Red Group March 16-31 Blue Group May 16-31
Orange Group April 1-15 Violet Group June 1-15
Fall Color Dates Fall Color Dates
Purple Group September 16-30
Maroon Group October 1-15 Olive Group November 16-30
Brown Group October 16-31 Goldenrod Group December 1-15

Go here for a printable list of frost dates and colors.

Now go here to see the dates to plant!

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107 Responses

  1. Ryan says:

    I really like your site. Thank you.
    I do have one question, what do I do if I don’t have any frost dates?
    Location is Honolulu, HI.

  2. Emily says:

    Snow in August doesn’t really prove anything. What you need to do is find your frost date. Follow the instructions and find the city closest to you. If the frost date is not listed, you may be outside of the color groups I’ve made.

  3. Jeanette Grisham says:

    I don’t know what color code I’m in. I think Violet but I’m not sure. I’ve seen it snow in August around when the fair comes to town.

    What do you think???

  4. Emily says:

    Not necessarily. Some people who live in “hot” states are outside of the color chart. My e-book does have a custom color schedule that allows you to fill in your own dates. But this only really applies to those with a spring-summer-fall planting schedule.

    The dates I offer might work for you and others who live in warmer climates (like Las Vegas), but really you may have a fall-winter-spring gardening season or a spring-summer and a fall-winter season. I am very aware of your needs, and it’s on my list of things to research and write about. But honestly, I can’t speak from experience, only from my research. I encourage you to contact your local extension service (www.extension.org) for a recommended planting schedule.

  5. Mark Gardner says:

    We just started out first square foot garden. We’ve got 2 4′x4′ squares in our back yard right now and we just put out our first bunch of plants. Very exciting. But it is a little overwhelmiing. I think your site has some great into and I’d love to get on the newsletter but I’m having an issue figuring out my “color”. I live in Austin, Texas and when i look at the middle row and column I get December 6, which is no where on your color wheel. Am i looking in the wrong place?

  6. Emily says:

    Okay, I think the lack of strawberry information is a glaring hole in my website. The truth is, I grew up picking strawberries as a little girl and teenager. I remember the huge fields with rows and rows of plants and berries. I don’t know if I believe that you can grow enough strawberries to make it worth it, especially in a 4×4 or 4×8 bed. I have a small yard, and feel so limited on space that I can’t bring myself to give it all over to strawberries. So I’ve never researched them.

    Perhaps I’ll post on this and solicit some feedback. I’d love to be wrong, because I do love ripe, red strawberries!

  7. Jennifer says:

    I live in Kaysville, Utah. What type of strawberries do you recommend & like?

  8. Emily says:

    Melissa–I see you are subscribed and confirmed. In fact, it shows that you received yesterday’s newsletter. Check your spam folder, and make sure to “white list” this email address: newsletter@mysquarefootgarden.net

    A note to all: I do see that some members are not receiving the newsletters. I have been working with my service provider for an explanation, but please contact me so I can try to iron it out!

  9. Melissa says:

    I have tried to sign up for your newsletter twice with my email and once with my husband’s and we are not getting the confirmation email. I am not sure how to troubleshoot it. Thanks for all this info. I love it!
    Lehi, UT

  10. Emily says:

    I think you’d have great success with some herbs–basil, oregano, even parsley (which is not an herb, technically). All plants need 8-12 hours of full sunlight, and early morning sun doesn’t always count. They need a certain amount of intensity. I would try some simple things like peas, beans, and spinach. Lettuce for sure–it’s super easy. Just be careful with your soil–get sterilized soil so you’re not bringing in bugs and disease.

    I’d also search for some container gardening websites. I know there are some great resources out there. Best of luck!

  11. Jennifer says:

    What a wonderful site! I am so excited about starting my first garden! I know you must be extremely busy, so I understand if you don’t have time to answer this. Here’s the thing: I live in Greece, just 80 km east of Thessaloniki. I found a map of Europe here:

    http://www.gardenweb.com/zones/europe/hze7.html

    I live in zone 9. Could you point me to some resources or give me some advice for easy first vegetables to plant? All I have is a balcony, so it will be all done in pots. Perhaps I should start with plants instead of seeds? I get the feeling it’s a little late to do seeds this year. Also, our balcony gets FULL hot sun all morning during the summer months, and then shade in the afternoon. (It faces directly east.)

    Thanks so much for your help! You have a lovely site!

  12. Jenn says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  13. Emily says:

    Sue–I’m not sure which link you are referring to–have you determined your spring frost date? If not, give me a more precise location and I can find it for you.

  14. Emily says:

    Your frost date is April 30, so you are right on the edge between the Yellow Group and the Green Group. If you are having a warm spring, I would follow the Yellow Group. If it’s a later winter and a cold spring, follow the Green.

  15. SueB says:

    Hi,
    I was looking on your site to determine the color wheel planting schedule and found the link to the color wheel is not working.
    I live in Western Washington and would like a schedule to go by.

  16. Jenn says:

    Yikes! I am feeling a little blond today and I can NOT for the life of me figure out what color I am! I’m in Denver, CO!! HELP!!

  17. Emily says:

    Jilynn–these gardening schedules are based on a spring-summer-fall season, which doesn’t work in places where it gets really hot in the summer (like Mesa!). But I’m working on some posts that should be helpful to you. It’s spring and I have so much to do! :)

  18. Jilynn Bradshaw says:

    Hi! I live in Mesa, AZ and can’t figure out what color I am. I think the closest place to me is Phoenix on your chart but then I can’t find a color that matches that frost date. Thanks for your help!

  19. Emily says:

    There should be an unsubscribe link at the bottom of each newsletter. Clicking on it lets you change your settings. If it doesn’t work I can do it manually! Just email me at mysquarefootgarden@gmail.com

  20. amy says:

    I need to change my color from red to green-can’t figure out how to change. :)

  21. emilyrhp says:

    What a great question! I am not aware of the resources available to gardeners outside of the USA.

    I did a google search for “frost dates England” and found this website: http://www.gardenaction.co.uk/main/weather1.asp

    It looks like you pick your city from a drop down, then the whole site is geared to your dates. I clicked on Weekly Calendar on the left, and it had an article about what to do this week, according to my frost date. Looks pretty interesting–that is what I am trying to offer people via my newsletter.

  22. emilyrhp says:

    My theme is Digg 3 column, you can find it here: http://www.wpdesigner.com/2007/01/22/digg-3-columns-wordpress-theme/

    Glad you like it!

  23. may says:

    i do i find out my frose date for the South East of England i have tryed to seach this on the internet but they don’t seem to be anything for England

  24. Not positive if any of your other readers have asked this…but what kind of theme are you using for your blog? I really like the style. I am running a blog too however can’t ever seem to find my “utopian” theme. This one is really close …however I’d perhaps tweak some things within the Header for my style. thx.

  25. Emily says:

    Lawrenceville is not listed specifically, you’ll need to look at the list and choose a nearby town with a similar climate. If you give me that name, I will let you know!

  26. Jeana says:

    Thank you so much for being so helpful and sharing.

  27. Caroline says:

    I live in Lawrenceville, GA and do not know what color I come under. Could you tell me.

    Love your informative site!!

    Caroline

  28. Cynthia says:

    Could someone help me. I am confused. I am so happy that I came across this site, but I am unsure about my dates. I followed the instructions, but am still unsure what my color would be. I am in Austin Texas, zone 8. Could someone help me. Thanks.

  29. Emily says:

    Vicky,

    That’s because your spring frost date is January 27, and your fall date is December 16. What that means is, you can’t plant non-frost hardy plants from the middle of December until the end of January. Essentially, you can garden year round! That is good news, but it’s a whole different strategy of gardening. My newsletters won’t help–they are designed for people who have a less temperate climate, with spring frost dates from March to June.

    I would suggest getting Mel’s book (a picture and link are on the left sidebar), since it has a year-round gardening schedule. Or, if you don’t square foot garden, just find a year-round gardening book.

    Good luck!

  30. Vicky says:

    i love your website! i just found it! i would love to get your e-mail (about planting tmes, etc.), but try as i might, i cannot understand that table of how to find the frost dates to find what color i am! Help!! i live in Eureka, CA. Can someone please help me?? Its even in the chart–(i didn’t know we ven HAD a frost date LOL)
    Thank you!!
    Can’t wait to get gardening!
    Vcky

  31. Doug says:

    Great website you have here. Thanks for taking the time to share your insight with the rest of us.

  32. Shreela says:

    Texas Zone 6 (McAllen, Tx) Spring Plant Times

    Asparagus (crowns) Not Recommended
    Beans, snap & lima bush Jan 30 – Feb 28
    Beans, snap pole Jan 30 – Feb 28
    Beans, lima pole Jan 30 – Feb 28
    Beets Dec 19 – Jan 2
    Broccoli Dec 19 – Jan 2
    Cabbage Dec 19 – Jan 2
    Carrot Dec 19 – Jan 2
    Chard, Swiss Dec 19 – Jan 2
    Collard (kale) Dec 19 – Jan 16
    Corn, Sweet Dec 19 – Jan 16
    Cucumber Jan 30 – March 14
    Eggplant Feb 14 – Mar 14
    Kohlrabi Dec 19 – Jan 16
    Lettuce Dec 19 – Feb 14
    Muskmelon (Cantaloupe) Jan 30 – Mar 14
    Mustard Jan 30 – Mar 14
    Okra Feb 14 – Mar 14
    Onion (plants) Nov 22 – Jan 2
    Onion (seed) Dec 5 – Dec 19
    Peas, English Not Recommended
    Peas, Southern Feb 14 – Apr 11
    Pepper Feb 7 – Mar 28
    Potato, Irish Dec 19 – Jan 2
    Potato, Sweet Feb 14 – Mar 28
    Pumpkin Feb 7 – Feb 28
    Radish Dec 19 – Feb 28
    Spinach Dec 5 – Jan 23
    Squash, summer Feb 7 – Feb 28
    Squash, winter Feb 7 – Feb 28
    Tomato (plants) Jan 30 – Mar 28
    Turnip, greens and roots Dec 19 – Jan 16
    Watermelon Jan 30 – Mar 14

    I copied that from a spreadsheet I started. So far, I’ve only got Theresa’s Tx zone entered. Next, I’ll enter in mine, Houston Tx zone 4 (USDA zone 9b).

  33. Shreela says:

    @Theresa – I downloaded a spreadsheet that allows us to put our last frost date into a cell, then it generates planting times for us.

    But, I don’t know if it would work for as far south as you are.

    I was given a copy of Texas Gardener, January/February 2004, page 18 has the most excellent planting guide for the entire state of Texas.

    It has our state zoned off into our own State Zones, which there’s six of them. You’re in Tx Zone 6.

    Once we determine which Tx Zone we’re in, there’s a table for many common vegetables, how many plants or seeds to plant per 50ft, depth, spacing, crop height, then when to plant them for Tx Zones 1-6 (only for Spring, no fall planting times, geee).

    I’m going to try to scan it, but apparently it got a little flooded (it’s not molded, so apparently I saved it in time), so it’s wrinkly and might not scan well. If it doesn’t scan well, I can type in the times and let you figure out the rest, if you contact me that you want it).

    PS: Asparagus and English Peas are the only “not recommended” vegetables for your Tx Zone.

    shreela gmail

  34. susie says:

    Will you be doing color charts for fall planting as well?

  35. Lynn says:

    Dear Emily,

    I saw your post at GRS [Starting Seeds Indoors: Jump-Start Your Garden Today]. Thanks for sharing your Website.

    Lynn

  36. Emily says:

    To Laura:

    Yes, here is my gardening plan from last year:
    /emily-week-0/

    Cabbage-read the back of your seed packet. Mine calls for full-sun, but you are right–you don’t want it to get super hot. My strategy is to plant them on the south west side of my yard, next to a fence. That way they get sun all day, but are blocked from the hot afternoon rays. Perhaps your office window spot is similar. You could try both and see which grows better!

    Potatoes-I’ve written several posts about this:
    /potatoes/

    Pole beans-tried them the first year, and didn’t like them. Perhaps I should try another variety, but my trellis spaces are already full! I’ve converted to bush beans.

  37. Mandy Paice says:

    Thank you so much for your blog. I found it yesterday and am so excited about getting my garden going again this spring. I’ve been gardening for about 2 1/2 years and can’t wait to learn more. Keep up the good work.

  38. Laura Vanderbeek says:

    Hi! I too found you through everyday food storage. I just wanted to say THANK YOU for the newsletter. This year I am going to plant a garden for the second time. I grew up in military housing (my dad was an army helicopter pilot) and we never had time to grow a garden (we moved often). I have a 15×40 spot that I will be using and I want to get the max produce for the space. I didn’t do so well last year but I learned a lot. Cabbage Questions: Where is the best place to plant my cabbage once it is time? I could plant it in my veggie garden area which is the south east corner of my lot (no fence) or I could plant it in a shady area by my office window. Is shade a bad idea? or partial shade that gets morning sun but shaded from the hot afternoon sun? Potato Question: How did you start them? And how far apart did you plant them? Do you have a drawing of your garden plan and how far apart you planted everything and north, south, east, west directions for us? And one last question: Have you tried pole beans? Any success?Thanks for sharing your knowledge! Oh and I tried the sweet yellow onion starts last year and they turned out incredible.

  39. Emily says:

    To Annette:

    Yes, I built my own boxes from vinyl at Home Depot. It was a project! I will write a post about my experience, so watch for it in the next week or so!

  40. Emily says:

    To reply to Theresa in McAllen TX and Tonya in Las Vegas NV:

    No, you won’t have success following the “red” schedule. Both of you seem to have a similar problem. Unlike many places in the US where you can garden from spring to fall without a break, your climate is too hot in the summer to actually grow anything. However, you CAN grow almost all winter-long! So you need to switch your thinking from a spring-summer-fall mentality to a fall-winter-spring mentality.

    The best thing both of you can do is to contact your local extension service (www.extension.org), or get in touch with a neighbor who has some experience gardening in your area. Then you will be able to determine how to adjust these schedules to your climate.

    If there are enough people in this situation, I’ll do a little research and put something together. If you are interested in this, send me an email at mysquarefootgarden@gmail.com.

  41. Jodz says:

    Hi, I love your site but I live in New Zealand and our last frost is around October. So is there any chance you may do other countries?

  42. Tonya says:

    I live in Henderson/ Las Vegas, I think my date is Feb16 but that doesn’t fall into any color. Should I just follow the red group?

  43. Joyce says:

    Thank you! This is a great system.:)

    I usually find that published planting dates are way off for our area. We are in the “Blue” zone, so planting dates are quite a bit behind a lot of other areas.

    Joyce

  44. Annette says:

    Can you teach us how to make square foot garden boxes from vinyl at Home Depot?

  45. Michelle says:

    I was so excited to find your website! My family will be moving to New York in July, so I don’t think I will be planting and leaving all my precious spoils to the next renters! I WILL be planting next year with the help of this website–which is SO helpful. I’ve learned so much already!!! Thank you!

  46. heather says:

    so glad i found your website (through EveryDay Food Storage). I have the sq ft garden book and this is the first year i’m going to try it. i finally live in a location where i feel like the bugs won’t eat all the roots. i signed up for the newsletter. I’m a green! anyhoo… excited to see what tips you have for newbies.

  47. Theresa says:

    I like your website! I might try a small container garden this year. Please help me with the color section. I checked the link for the frost date for my area (McAllen, Texas) which is January 5th. (Spring section, middle column, middle row). There is no color section on your chart for an area this hot. The unrelenting heat is why I give up on my gardens by the second week in June. It was a very dry and windy 91 degrees on February 27th which does not bode well for this summer. Do you have any suggestions about when and what may stand up to this climate? If I plant in containers on my east facing patio, the containers will be in shade by 4pm daily. Thanks in advance for all of your help!

  48. Camille says:

    I was excited to find your site too. I don’t need a big garden anymore. I like fresh veggies and I can some things. I think this is going to be a good year.

  49. Deanne Prairie says:

    Thanks for the great color charts. I can hardly wait to get my newsletter…

  50. 5joys says:

    I am sooooo excited to find your site. I have started some square foot gardens – with your help – I know they will be amazing this year! Thanks!