To understand vegetable growing seasons, it helps to know what kind of weather vegetable plants “like.” This cannot be determined from interviews, however, so you must use your powers of observation (my plants declined to comment).
Some veggies need long days with cold temperatures, while others need warm days and even extreme heat.
Remember in 3rd grade when you learned all the plant parts? You know, roots, leaves, stems, flowers, fruits and seeds? (Banana Slug Stringband fans are singing along right now). Turns out, plant parts are an important concept. At least in the case of leaves, roots and fruit.
For example, most leaves and roots prefer cool seasons. So typically, fall through spring, leafy greens like chard, spinach, lettuce, kale and collard greens grow well. Roots like carrots, radishes, parsnips and rutabaga also do best during cool weather. To take advantage of these crops, make “root vegetable stew” or eat lots of spinach salads.
Fruit, like tomatoes, cucumbers and eggplant do best during the warm season. Yes, vegetables can be fruits! Please don’t hate me. You may be thinking, “I quit. I made it through third grade fine without your extraneous information!” But keep reading…
Botanically speaking, fruit is the byproduct of a flower, which serves to protect the seed or seeds inside. So yes, vegetables can be fruits. Vegetable “fruit” does best during warm temperatures. That’s why tomatoes don’t like cloudy days.
I hope this has helped you on your journey towards understanding the world of gardening. I often liken it to learning a new language. You know, i before e EXCEPT after c? There are a lot of exceptions and weird vegetable outliers. For example, did you know potatoes are a stem? So are kohlrabi.