Garden and Planting Calendar for Southern Iowa

Garden harvest

A work in progress…This calendar is for southern Iowa, which is mostly in Zone 5b.

January

Deep winter is the time to plan and shop.

  • Plan your garden for the coming season. Order seeds from seed catalogs
  • Start seeds indoors for perennial herbs. Give them a good, strong grow light to avoid weak, leggy growth

February

Yes, you can start to grow things in February.

  • Start seeds indoors for cruciferous vegetables, onions, perennial flowers.  Give them a good, strong grow light to avoid weak, leggy growth
  • In second half of month, tap maple trees for syrup

March

It’s just getting warm enough to spend some time in the yard.

  • Clear garden beds and prepare for coming season
  • Take hardwood cuttings of deciduous trees and shrubs for propagation
  • Start seeds indoors for tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, squashes, annual flowers. Give them a good, strong grow light to avoid weak, leggy growth
  • In second half of month — if ground can be worked — plant radishes, peas, spinach, chard and lettuces
  • Divide and transplant perennials. Prune away any dead or damaged branches
  • Plant roses, trees and shrubs
  • Turn compost heaps to get them revved up

April

Let’s get some stuff in the ground already!

  • Remove applied mulches from garden beds. Work in compost and manure
  • In first half of month — if ground can be worked — plant radishes, peas, spinach, chard and lettuces
  • In second half of month, plant cool-season herbs, cruciferous vegetables and root vegetables
  • Direct seed cool-weather flowers (California poppies)
  • Divide and transplant perennials. Prune away any dead or damaged branches
  • Plant roses, trees and shrubs
  • Spray fruit trees and bushes with DIY dormant oil spray when temp stays above 50°F
  • Take new-growth softwood cuttings for propagation
  • Gas up and run all mowers and maintenance as needed
  • Clean, sharpen and oil all tools

May

Okay, this is starting to feel like a lot of work. Did I overdo it? But look at those flowers!

  • Average last frost in southern Iowa: May 10
  • Plant trees and shrubs. Divide and transplant perennials.
  • Take new-growth softwood cuttings for propagation
  • After last frost, and when ground is above 50°F, plant your summer garden, including corn, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and herbs. Beans should be planted in the latter half of the month
  • Toward the end of the month, plant squashes, cucumbers and melons as they are very sensitive to cold

June

Got everything in finally. Now it’s time to weed, water and maintain.

  • Start mid-summer plantings in containers
  • Weed and water, weed and water. Stake plants as they grow. Florida weave for tomatoes. Trellis poles beans and squashes
  • Harvest: Radishes, asparagus, peas, spring greens, berries, cherries, green walnuts for pickling/nocino (late June)

July

It’s too hot, and I don’t even want to look at it anymore. Just give me mint julep and a little bit of shade.

  • Mid-month plant for fall harvest: Carrots, greens, Napa cabbage. Beans, Root Veg, Cabbage family, peas, lettuces, herbs. Arugula, parsley, beets, cabbage, carrots, chard, fennel, lettuce, kale, leeks, mustard, peas, radishes, scallions, spinach. Shade after transplanting if the weather is hot. Water well until established.
  • Harvest: Garlic, blueberries, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, cucumbers, green walnuts for pickling/nocino (early July)
  • Weed and water, weed and water, weed and water

August

Oh, God, what am I going to do with all of this?!

  • Harvest: Green beans, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, cucumbers
  • Mid-month plant peas, radishes, spinach, lettuce, beets, scallions. Clear spent beds and plant a cover crop or some lettuces/radishes.
  • Canning, freezing, drying, pickling

September

Winding down the garden.

  • Harvest: Garlic, radishes, spinach, arugula, green beans, tomatoes. Use up all green tomatoes for vegetables, pickling and jam
  • Canning, freezing, drying, pickling
  • Plant garlic, bulbs, cover crops
  • Transplant trees, bushes and shrubs

October

Time to put it all to rest for winter.

  • Plant garlic, bulbs
  • Clear beds and cut cover crops before they set seed

November

Finish up shutting down.

  • Mulch garden beds with fallen leaves
  • Take hardwood cuttings of decidous trees and shrubs for propagation
  • Chop down unwanted or diseased trees once they have lost all their leaves and gone dormant

December

  • Order seed catalogs. Enjoy the holidays