Spring has sprung and with the coronavirus making everyone nervous about food supplies and our national distribution network, lots of people around Billings are taking up gardening. Maybe for the first time, or maybe you helped your parents or grandparents work in their gardens when you were a kid. Maybe you're an old-hat and have been planting your own crops for years.

If you're a newbie, here are some general guidelines.

  • Know your Zone. Downtown, most of the west-end and the lower elevations in Yellowstone County are USDA Zone 4b. The slightly higher elevations by the airport or in the South Hills is Zone 5a. HERE'S A MAP. Your zone is important because that's how you'll know when to plant.
  • It's still too cold to plant most garden plants. In Zone 4, the average last day of frost is May 15th. If you plant those beautiful looking tomato plants that you see at Lowe's right now, I can almost promise you they will freeze. Then you'll have to start over.
  • Start your plants indoors. Yes, it's too soon to plant seeds outside, but now is the perfect time to get them started on seed trays, kept moist and placed in a warm, sunny window. Some plants are more difficult than others to start from seed. Like tomatoes.
  • Don't overdo it. Tilling up your entire 3/4 acre backyard and turning it into a giant garden will almost certainly turn into a MUCH bigger project than you anticipate if you are new to gardening. Even the most efficiently designed, minimal work garden will require a lot of time and attention.
  • Ask a local greenhouse. Don't get me wrong. I shop the box stores for a lot of things. I don't for garden plants, and you shouldn't either. Local greenhouses and nurseries actually know what plants do well in Billings. They'll probably know what plants do better in the Heights, compared to what grows best in Briarwood. Seriously, spend a little extra and get plants from a local pro. Their advice is priceless.

Additional Resources:

Every garden is different, but the following vegetables have generally done well in the Billings area.