Veggie Virgin: Vegetable Planting Guide/Calendar by Zone and Month

Posted on May 30 2012 - 1:37am by Mike Lieberman

You want to start your garden and feel overwhelmed, not knowing what you can grow.

Finding that information in an easy to follow format is damned near impossible.

You need a degree to read the charts, maps and graphs that are out there.

How would you like to know what you can grow in your garden today without the confusion?

The Veggie Virgin Formula

Luckily for you, I have scoured dozens of sites and have put together the “Veggie Virgin Formula.” It’s geared towards people who are starting their vegetable garden or have had troubles in the past.

The Veggie Virgin Formula makes figuring out what to plant in your garden simple.


The Veggie Virgin Formula makes figuring out what to plant in your garden simple. — Tweet This

Follow these 4-steps to know what to plant

Step 1: Figure out your USDA Zone

For those of you outside the US, I didn’t find such a great tool, but did find this link.

Step 2: Download your chart

Based on what hardiness zone you are, download the corresponding chart below:

Each chart is broken down by month and includes what you can plant in that month.

Step 3: Determine your sunlight

To monitor the amount of sunlight throughout the day, start off with a quick sketch of your garden space. Section it off as the day progresses because the surrounding structures will cast shade in certain areas.

Note how many hours of sunlight your space gets during the day and figure out which category it falls into:

You’ll have to do this during each season.

Step 4: Decide what to grow

Now you have the list of veggies that you can grow this month, but you’ll need to narrow it down based on how much sunlight your garden gets. 3 sources to buy your vegetable seeds.

In the theme of keeping this simple, use the basic rule of growing:

“If you grow it for the root or fruit, you need full sun. If you grow it for the leaves, partial shade is all you need.”

Are there exceptions? Of course, but this basic rule makes it easier for you to start.

Why the Veggie Virgin Formula?

This name was used because this is geared towards people who just starting their first garden or don’t have much experience. It removes the stress of figuring it out on your own and eliminates some of that fear of failure because your choices are laid out for you.

Your turn

Use the Veggie Virgin Formula and in the comments below let me know what you are going to plant in your garden.

P.S. If you want even more insanely practical tips like this, stay tuned for my training course to get your fall garden started, which I’ll be unveiling in June.

130 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. ivy May 30, 2012 at 8:12 am -

    This is completely AWESOME!  The chart is exactly what I need!
    Thanks, Mike!  Your info cuts to the bone!

  2. Jadine May 30, 2012 at 8:18 am -

    Thank you. This chart is very handy!

  3. Laine Dakin May 30, 2012 at 8:21 am -

    Way cool Mike!  We’ve fallen foul of this before but this lays it all out.

  4. Melinda May 30, 2012 at 9:02 am -

    Thanks Mike! You make it seem easy.

  5. Mike Lieberman May 30, 2012 at 10:30 am -

    The way it’s meant to be 😉

  6. Mike Lieberman May 30, 2012 at 10:30 am -

    Glad you likes.

  7. Mike Lieberman May 30, 2012 at 10:31 am -


  8. Mike Lieberman May 30, 2012 at 10:31 am -

    I do my best to keeps it simple.

  9. Lori Popkewitz Alper May 30, 2012 at 12:39 pm -

    This is perfect. I’ve been procrastinating big time and I need to get my garden going. You make it very easy. Thanks!

  10. Mike Lieberman May 30, 2012 at 1:20 pm -

    Word. Glad you likes!

  11. Karen Daniels May 30, 2012 at 1:38 pm -

    Mike, your Veggie Virgin Formula will save me a ton of time. Thanks!

  12. Brandi Mata Johnson May 30, 2012 at 9:09 pm -

    So simple! Thanks so much!

  13. Mike Lieberman May 31, 2012 at 8:50 am -

    My pleasure.

  14. Mike Lieberman May 31, 2012 at 8:50 am -

    Do my best to keeps it simple.

  15. Kristie Longan May 31, 2012 at 1:08 pm -

    *facepalm* Gosh how I wish I had found your website a year ago! Thanks for this!

  16. Sullivus May 31, 2012 at 4:32 pm -

    That chart is helpful.  Thanks!!

  17. Sandy Macmillan June 1, 2012 at 9:02 am -

    I have had a difficult time finding charts.  10 years ago, they seemed to be everywhere, including on the seed packets.  Now, it’s not so easy.

  18. Mike Lieberman June 1, 2012 at 4:42 pm -

    Word. Me too 😉

  19. Mike Lieberman June 1, 2012 at 4:42 pm -

    Glad you likes.

  20. Mike Lieberman June 1, 2012 at 4:42 pm -

    THat’s where I come in 😉

  21. Gheyman June 3, 2012 at 9:41 am -

    If your formula says Zone 10, how do you decide if you are 10a or 10b??

  22. Carolyn June 3, 2012 at 9:48 am -

    How do I know which hardiness zone I am in?  I entered my zip code and it showed my city and state, but then what?  Thanks, Mike!

  23. Mike Lieberman June 3, 2012 at 10:27 am -

    Go with 10 like me 😉

  24. Mike Lieberman June 3, 2012 at 10:28 am -

    Hmm…what kind of computer and browser are you using? Some people have mentioned the same issue and seeing if I can figure it out. It hasn’t occurred to me yet. Your help would be appreciated.

  25. Efacet June 3, 2012 at 10:47 am -

    Thanks! The chart helps a lot! I’d always thought San Francisco was zone 9, but your engine says it is zone 8! Has something changed, I wonder!

  26. Cslad26 June 3, 2012 at 10:56 am -

    My USAD zone states 9B…which is not listed. Should I go with 9?

  27. Mike Lieberman June 3, 2012 at 10:59 am -

    The zone changed a few months ago. That could be it.

  28. Mike Lieberman June 3, 2012 at 10:59 am -


  29. Sharon M June 3, 2012 at 11:05 am -

    Thanks for thinking of us in Europe. I’m in Slovakia and it says zone 6. I looked at Mar and Apr and realised I had, quite by chance, planted things that your chart suggested. I will be trying again in the fall.

  30. Rita Desnoyers-Garcia June 3, 2012 at 11:17 am -

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!  I’ve been realizing the hard way that my cabbage is bolting, along with my cilantro and broccoli!  I’ve been eating stuff as babies because of my mistakes (tasty mistakes) but it’s so good to get this simple solution.  I was mystified as well when I’d ask the question “Can you just tell me what to plant when?”  Perfect article for me.

  31. Robi June 3, 2012 at 1:05 pm -

    I live in So. Calif.  Near the coast.  Is that 10a or 10b  or does the a and be matter?

  32. Jerrilynne June 3, 2012 at 1:10 pm -

    Thanks, Mike!  This is very helpful!

  33. Paul egan June 3, 2012 at 1:28 pm -

    Hi Mike, living in Ireland we have perfect soil and lots of rain so growing veg is not a problem. I raise my own plants from seeds in my poly tunnel and then plant out in my garden. Im a raw foodist so everything goes fresh from the garden into the mouth. Its a fantastic feeling to grow your own and the health benefits can felt instantly. keep up the ood work.

  34. Leslia30 June 3, 2012 at 2:19 pm -

    WHOA! I live in zone 3 northern Mn. and in April and May it’s still very likely to have 30 degee (or lower) temps at night….AND we still get snow in April occasionally. You are off by a good month or TWO! Sorry

  35. Mike Lieberman June 3, 2012 at 3:08 pm -

    I’m glad that you have the experience and knowledge of that. This is designed and built for those that don’t have anything and need some guidance. 

  36. Mike Lieberman June 3, 2012 at 3:09 pm -

    Dope. That’s awesome.

  37. Mike Lieberman June 3, 2012 at 3:09 pm -

    Glad you likes.

  38. Mike Lieberman June 3, 2012 at 3:09 pm -

    When you put in your zip, what did it say?

  39. Amber Oritz June 3, 2012 at 4:03 pm -

    Thanks so much! I am a total gardening n00b and this tool is very helpful.

  40. Cfair4 June 3, 2012 at 5:14 pm -

    Thank you so much for this info. My daughter was thrilled with the simplicity, her comment was “COOL”

  41. Mike Lieberman June 3, 2012 at 6:59 pm -

    Glad you likes. Lemme know how it turns out.

  42. Mike Lieberman June 3, 2012 at 6:59 pm -

    Simple is how I likes it.

  43. alice June 3, 2012 at 7:39 pm -

    I live in Texas and it has been hot since March this year. Strange weather this year. Oh well onward and upward. This chart will really help next time.

  44. alice June 3, 2012 at 7:40 pm -

    I am glad to have this chart. Now all I need to do is get soil in shape.

  45. Tye June 3, 2012 at 8:56 pm -

    this is so darn helpful to newbie gardeners! 

  46. JacquelineB June 3, 2012 at 11:45 pm -

    Bush beans, squash, winter squash, peas and eggplant. We do have tomatoes and peppers already. Is it too late to plant melons or watermelons in June for zone 7A? Thank you for the inspiration here! I nearly gave up vegetable gardening when we moved onto a small lot with little direct sun.

  47. Redwallmom June 4, 2012 at 3:36 am -

    What about garlic for zone 7?

  48. Cher June 4, 2012 at 5:50 am -

    My marigolds flowers are all gone off the plant .Its like something is eating them. Can it be snails . what do I do ?

  49. Rtstatlrj June 4, 2012 at 11:59 am -

    Plant it in the fall/winter, then harvest in June.  

  50. Pam June 4, 2012 at 12:15 pm -

    My zone is 10. I live in West Los Angeles  I want to know what is 10a and 10b which one should I use? Please help. Thanks


  51. Gheyman June 4, 2012 at 1:50 pm -

    Hi Mike, 
    There is no specific chart for 10, just 10a or 10b…  So, which do you use?  Like someone else commented, I am in West LA / South Bay so want to make sure I’m at least on the right 10 chart! Thanks, G

  52. Mike Lieberman June 4, 2012 at 6:58 pm -

    Go with 10.

  53. Mike Lieberman June 4, 2012 at 6:58 pm -

    Go with 10.

  54. Mike Lieberman June 4, 2012 at 6:59 pm -

    That’s what’s up!

  55. Mike Lieberman June 4, 2012 at 6:59 pm -

    Do it!

  56. Mike Lieberman June 4, 2012 at 6:59 pm -

    What’s the chart say?

  57. Dani Massey June 4, 2012 at 7:32 pm -

    I am in zone 8b. I had no idea it could actually get TOO hot to grow tomatoes. Now I know why the silly worms camp out in my containers. Cuz they know they will get a treat that I can’t save in spite of myself because I was planting it wrong times.

  58. Dani Massey June 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm -

     I never heard of this! I always thought that marigolds were bastions against buggies. Could there really be a bug that eats them?

  59. Forces of Nature June 6, 2012 at 2:44 pm -

    <3 <3 <3 your posts on FB and your blogs are so well written and informative! Thanks so much for the info! We'll be sure to pass it along!

  60. Mike Lieberman June 6, 2012 at 8:36 pm -

    Word. Appreciate.

  61. Tiffani June 7, 2012 at 9:52 am -

    Love this!  Simple, way easy…well done Mike! 

  62. Mike Lieberman June 7, 2012 at 2:10 pm -

    That’s the way I roll!

  63. Craig June 8, 2012 at 9:29 am -

    Nice work Mike! Thanks for the info. Will be starting my balcony garden this weekend!

  64. Gheyman June 10, 2012 at 9:58 am -

    Hi.  Sorry to be a pain, but there is no chart for 10. I’ll just look at both 10a and 10b, but if you have further info on which of those two or if you do have a just 10 chart, would be good to see it…  Thanks though…  I love the blog and all of the great advice.

  65. Mike Lieberman June 10, 2012 at 2:06 pm -

    That’s what’s up. Keep me updated on how ti works out.

  66. Mike Lieberman June 10, 2012 at 2:06 pm -

    Gotcha. what is your zip?

  67. Khat Castigliata June 13, 2012 at 9:03 am -


    Thanks, Mike!

  68. Mike Lieberman June 13, 2012 at 11:03 am -

    Word. Glad you likes.

  69. Victoria June 16, 2012 at 3:08 pm -

    fantasic info Mike..i have been veggie gardening  in the ground, but I have been using your tips right along and have started to add pots to my steps to see if I could increase planting single fruit or veggie like cabbage or broccoli freeing up more space in the flat GARDEN.

  70. Mike Lieberman June 17, 2012 at 12:55 am -

    Nice. Glad I could help. Good for you for taking action!

  71. Gheyman June 17, 2012 at 9:18 am -

    90277…  South bay, near the coast..

  72. Mike Lieberman June 18, 2012 at 10:17 am -


  73. Emily June 20, 2012 at 8:12 am -

    This is awesome, thank you so much!  I have a question though(maybe more experienced gardeners know this), but when you plant most of the plants per month on your list do you want to plant, starter plant or seeds?  I was looking more specifically at the fall planting in Zone5-6 in Sept of mostly brassicas, the list is great, but when do you start fall veggies from seed if you need to….because it seems like fall starter plants can be hard to come by? Thank you or nice gardening resource and website!  

  74. Mike Lieberman June 20, 2012 at 11:30 pm -

    The charts are for planting seeds. If you are looking to get your fall garden  started, you might be interested in my Fall Gardening 101 course

  75. Cain June 21, 2012 at 1:08 am -

    Im new to the game, i have done wsomwe sampling with different things to test my sun exposure and some were successful, I am starting to get 5 gallon buckets and soil for the fall garden, Ill be reding news letters and posts to help me along…Ill think of it as my 12 step support group for gardening. 

  76. Mike Lieberman June 21, 2012 at 11:39 pm -

    Word. Glad I can help.

  77. Aion_Buffkitten June 24, 2012 at 10:54 am -

    Hi Mike.  I put in my zip code above, but all it gave me was the correct city.  There is no indication of what my Zone is.  Am I missing an add-on?  I have the most recent version of Firefox

  78. Canayen1 June 24, 2012 at 2:03 pm -

    From Canada…No zip code…

    Any other way to get info? 

  79. Mike Lieberman June 24, 2012 at 2:29 pm -

    What’s the zip?

  80. Wendy Davis June 24, 2012 at 2:44 pm -

    This is wonderful! Very helpful for me, a beginning gardener! Thank you so much for putting this in a way that is not so overwhelming and has step by step instructions! You have taken the feeling that i couldn’t do this away totally and given me a place where all my “stupid” questions are answered! I now have hope that i can be a successful gardener and reach my goal of growing my own salad! Thank you for taking your time to create this sanctuary for all of us lost gardeners!

  81. stacy June 24, 2012 at 4:39 pm -

    This is wonderful information even for the veteran gardener.

  82. Tgardezy June 24, 2012 at 5:03 pm -

    I am going to do sweet potatoes, and squash. Hoping one of those long narrow planter boxes is big enough. 

  83. Mike Lieberman June 24, 2012 at 6:12 pm -

    Word. Glad you likes!

  84. Mike Lieberman June 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm -

    There is a link in there for international read the above post.

  85. Canayen1 June 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm -

    I’m in Manitoba, close to Minnesota/North Dakota border…

    What zip would that be?

  86. Mike Lieberman June 24, 2012 at 9:13 pm -

    Read the info above. There is a link of international.

  87. M Dailey June 25, 2012 at 6:20 am -

    Great information – easy to understand, short, and to the point. Thanks so much. 

  88. Lori June 25, 2012 at 10:00 am -

    My zone is 10, but you have 10a and 10b.  Which one should I use?  Thanks!

  89. Mike Lieberman June 25, 2012 at 4:12 pm -

    That’s how I roll.

  90. Hadassah June 25, 2012 at 4:27 pm -

    Thanks Mike! I was told by a nursery it was too late to grow anything. You renewed my spirit! Can I start my fall garden from seed? I’m in zone 6A.

  91. Mike Lieberman June 25, 2012 at 4:41 pm -

    What’s your chart say?

  92. Bert122 July 14, 2012 at 12:33 pm -

    So Mike, when you identify veggies or herbs for certain months, am I to understand that I will plant a seed or a starter (already sprouted) in the designated month?

  93. Mike Lieberman July 16, 2012 at 8:54 pm -

    Plant the seed.

  94. Eviedechant July 23, 2012 at 11:55 am -

    Mike, when I tried to download the chart windows shut down saying that there was a threat to my computer.. do you have a safe way that I can get this chart please?

  95. DeckJen July 23, 2012 at 12:29 pm -

    Thank you!  I find this VERY helpful!

  96. Mike Lieberman July 23, 2012 at 1:02 pm -

    The files should be safe. I just downloaded one of them and I’ve never received a comment that they are not safe.

  97. Azcricket July 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm -

    I typed in my zip code but the information it is supposed to provide appears to be hidden. Do you know why?

  98. Missy Gu July 23, 2012 at 4:03 pm -

    i will try spinach fro Aug/Sept. but i will be using starters.

  99. Missy July 23, 2012 at 4:04 pm -

    i will try spinach for Aug/Sept. but i will be using starter plants.

  100. Mike Lieberman July 23, 2012 at 5:51 pm -

    What browser and OS are you using? What’s your zip?

  101. Justine July 23, 2012 at 6:35 pm -

    It says I’m in zone 10 (I thought I was 9 – according to other charts)…but do I use 10a or 10b?

  102. Mike Lieberman July 23, 2012 at 7:31 pm -

    What’s your zip?

  103. Oasis_tsb August 12, 2012 at 6:52 am -

    i like this site..mike have been a great help with info for my container garden!! don’t let the small minded people get to you..just keep on keepin on!!!

  104. Meg August 12, 2012 at 7:34 am -

    Hi Mike! I’m getting my fall containers going and am trying to decide what to plant. I’m in South Carolina (zone 7B) and spinach is an option for Sept/Oct that I’d love to try. I’m going to be starting seeds, so should I go ahead and start them now or wait until September?

    I’m also going to be trying again with peas – I didn’t look into this when I planted in the spring/early summer, and my pea plants died from the heat. Looking forward to giving them another try! Thank you!  

  105. Karen R. Davis August 15, 2012 at 5:53 pm -

    YES YES YES! This is exactly the help I need!! Thank you!!

  106. LadyDragonfly September 9, 2012 at 7:39 am -

    I’m the zip is 33304

  107. Sharon September 9, 2012 at 2:35 pm -

    I’ve gardened for years, but in a different zone. This is my first year in zone 8. I am anxious for this fall/winter garden. Thanks.

  108. Heidigrex September 12, 2012 at 3:38 pm -

    Seriously, cucumbers in zone 7-8? I am in Oregon. The rest makes sense, but I really question the cucumbers….???

  109. Kimberly Williams September 15, 2012 at 2:16 pm -

    I am very excited to get started. My zip is 75081 and I am going to start a salad garden on my patio using a whiskey barrel. I am very excited! I truly appreciate this cite.

  110. Christina September 26, 2012 at 10:28 am -

    I’m in the same boat as other here from SoCal, I put in my zip and it tells me Zone 10 yet you have Zone 10a and 10b, no zone 10. What is the difference from Zone 10a and 10b?

  111. gemma September 26, 2012 at 12:47 pm -

    can u please include the UK in this?

  112. Mike Lieberman September 27, 2012 at 6:12 am -

    There is a link for Europe in there.

  113. Susan September 28, 2012 at 7:10 am -

    This happened to me too. 86334

  114. Pat September 30, 2012 at 1:51 pm -

    Hi Mike…My plan is to give collards a try. But being a 63 yr old woman with not so good health, I will have to do container gardening. I want to can/freeze but can you get enough collards in containers for this? Also, I want to plant some mint. I tried growing it in a container without luck. My dogs knocked over the container and what fell on the ground just exploded but turns out it was chocolate mink!! I want spearmint or peppermint. Can you give me some tips for growing mint in a container??

  115. Francine Oliver October 27, 2012 at 1:10 pm -

    This is what happened to me, also. 83864

  116. Pamela Stevens October 27, 2012 at 4:44 pm -

    Me, too

  117. sgtrunningfool November 7, 2012 at 7:15 pm -

    I am at 20032 in Washington D.C. I was going to just plan everything out for the spring but now you have me thinking of trying something now. But in the spring I am going to try Tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and beans. Container gardening allows me to use my wood workign skills and my curiousity about gardening.

  118. Shannon Shell Cline November 29, 2012 at 9:05 pm -

    When I’m looking at this chart and it says I can plant tomatoes in Zone 7B in March, is that putting the seed in the ground or transplants? I’m not so sure I can find transplants that early and I’ve tried-I’m no good at starting seeds!

    *Nevermind-I see in previous posts it’s for planting seeds. Very cool-and great to know. I will be getting on those tomatoe plants as soon as I can this year! Thanks!

  119. Emily Johnson March 13, 2013 at 8:10 am -

    Thanks for putting this together!

  120. amy March 17, 2013 at 3:59 pm -

    I put my zip(28314) in and it just tells me my city. Can you tell me what zone im into

  121. Jordan March 19, 2013 at 1:02 pm -

    This is awesome, thanks! I truly have no idea what I’m doing! haha…

  122. tee March 31, 2013 at 2:40 pm -

    im zone 10 but you dont have it listed above

  123. Saray June 14, 2013 at 8:38 pm -

    oops! I planted lettuce, mustards, tomatoes, collards, and peppers in zone 10 at the end of May. What’s gonna happen now? So far the seed all sprouted and are growing fast and strong. Seem very healthy. gonna loose them all? 🙁
    I wish I had this chart

  124. Saray June 14, 2013 at 8:40 pm -

    Sorry my post before tweaking a bit. Mike, am I gonna loose all my plants?
    I wish I had this chart a month ago. It’s very good! Thank you

  125. Jessica February 4, 2014 at 7:48 pm -

    You need to start a pintrest so we can follow you there!!

  126. Andie May 9, 2014 at 3:23 pm -

    Okay so this sucks. I hope you check this page regularly b/c İ see the last post is 3 months old! So the deal is, I have ordered a crap ton of seeds. Is this guide for starting seeds indoors or for transplanting them outdoors after they’ve already sprouted? I realize someone may have asked this question so I’m totally sorry if so,… There us just no way I can sit and read through 126 comments. 🙂 Thanks In Advance, Andie

  127. Kenzie Spencer May 27, 2014 at 7:59 pm -

    I’m just going to take a guess, and say that it’s for direct sowing outdoors. However depending on your zone, I’d start some inside earlier.

  128. alie July 9, 2014 at 8:43 am -

    Wow you are amazing. Very kind of you to do this page. Bless you! I think its easy enough for me to give it a shot now! 🙂

  129. Connie Jean Conklin March 11, 2015 at 9:42 pm -

    I’m never sure and I always double check dates for planting by checking online. This is my 8th year at our local community garden…. and some things I know you are way off on the dates! There is no way I’d plant tomatoes in March- they will, for sure, freeze. I wasn’t even able to get my peas in the ground until last week. I did learn they do well, usually if planted in February- but you said January??? The ones I planted in February didn’t come up this year because the ground was frozen solid the end of February and beginning of March. No, I think you are early in your dates, will check another source.

  130. Rhonda January 27, 2016 at 6:24 am -

    Your zone map is off for us too. No way we can plant your zone 7 chart here. We are in the
    mountains and zone 6 planting works much better.Check with local neighbors before using these planting charts.

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