For those of you in France who want to absolutely maximize your vegetable productivity, it’s important to follow a rigorous planting calendar.
For that, it’s important to realize that not all regions have the same climate and weather conditions. Indeed, the climate isn’t the same in all parts of France, and this has a direct impact on the productivity of your vegetables.
Tips for a regional planting calendar in France, one area at a time.
The western coast of the Channel, as well as the entire Brittany coastline are in this climate zone. The whole French Atlantic coast is in this category, too.
Winters are temperate to mild and summers are cool to warm. This particularly advantageous climate makes it possible to have an extended growing season that starts very early in the year.
For example, you can start sowing carrot, lettuce (in a sheltered place), onion, leek and radish even in the last week of February (between February 20th and March 1st). Close after that come potato end of March, your beans end of April and your tomatoes, zucchinis and cucumbers beginning of May!
For the planting of potatoes, a natural guideline helps: it’s said to plant them when lilac is in full bloom!
About half of France is in this category: from Pau to Brussels, excluding of course the “Massif Central” mountain range. Actually, the entire west portion of France that isn’t “Oceanic climate” is considered “Semi-Oceanic climate”. Winters are cool, even very cool, and summers are warm to cool.
Potatoes are best planted end of April to beginning of May except in Aquitaine and Poitou Charente where they can be put in the ground beginning of April.
Champagne Ardenne, Lorraine, Bourgogne, Limousin and most of the Rhône-Alpes region are included in this climate area. Basically, if you don’t live in the mountains and in areas that are already mentioned above (Oceanic and Semi-oceanic climates), you live in semi-continental climate.
Your winters are very cool, even cold and your summers are hot.
Consequently, your planting season is very short: generally from end of March for the lucky ones to mid-June. Again, this is like the previous lists: always the winter vegetables first, and the summer ones last. Nothing surprising here.
As its name shows, this climate relates to those areas directly adjoining the Mediterranean ocean. Winters are mild, and summers are warm and dry.
The growing season is very long. You can actually start your winter vegetables as early as February 10th and your summer vegetables mid-April… The paradise for the vegetable patch gardener!
Here, it’s the complete opposite: gardeners living in mountainous areas have the worst situation. It goes with the magnificent scenery! Already, if above an altitude of 1,500 meters (5,000 feet), it will get hard to grow anything at all in the vegetable patch outside of the summer season.
Winters are very cold, and summers are cool. Clearly, if planting only outdoors in the ground, you’ll have trouble getting any results. However, a greenhouse can flip the tables here.
Map of French climate zones by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own work