When it comes to choosing plants for your edible garden, one easy way to classify plants is based on the type of weather needed to grow them – whether it is cool weather or warm/hot weather. Cool weather crops generally can withstand short periods of frost and include things like peas, lettuce, spinach, radishes and kale. Many cool weather crops have edible leaves and roots, while some are grown for their immature flowers (ex. broccoli) or seeds (peas).

Hot crops require both warm soil and high air temperatures. Some cooling at night is fine, though sudden cold or changes in temperatures may stress and shock plants beyond recovery. Traditional hot crops include beans, corn, cucumbers, melons, squash, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. Most of these plants are also considered fruiting plants as the botanic fruit are generally eaten, as opposed to the leaves or roots of the plant.

peppers and tomatoes fresh from the garden
Photo: Peppers and tomatoes fresh from the garden

Here in Toronto with our four seasons, we can grow and enjoy both hot and cool weather crops. Hot crops are generally planted towards the end of May and grow throughout the summer until the frost or cold weather kills them off. Cool weather crops can be planted as outdoors as soon as the soil can be worked and are often replanted in the late summer (August) for a fall harvest. With proper planning and preparation, you can enjoy several successions of outdoor crops almost all year round.

For help with your garden planning, talk to us about our garden coaching and garden planning services.

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