Even the most avid gardeners have a bad year! Any number of things can keep you out of the garden in April and May, weather problems, work commitments, family problems . . . we’ve all been there. But don’t give up on your summer vegetable garden just yet. There are still plenty of yummy veggies you can get planted now (in mid to late June) and get a nice harvest before the summer ends.
Let’s talk about what you can still get planted now and also talk about a few things that you can wait on and plant in about 5 or 6 weeks (Around August 1st for most of us).
Summer/Warm Season Veggies in Your Summer Vegetable Garden
No summer garden is complete without a few tomato plants and you can still get some in. Tomatoes are an important part of a food storage pantry. Hurry on this one! Most nurseries will still have a few tomato plants hanging around but they wont last much longer. (Don’t try to plant tomatoes by seed this time of year.)
This late in the year you want to be thinking about smaller, quicker maturing varieties. Try some type of cherry tomato (varieties to look for include Sun Sugar, and Sweet 100). They are relatively fast growers and should still give you a good harvest in September and early October.
You can also try some of the tomatoes that produce small to medium sized fruit. Think varieties like Early Girl, possibly Celebrity, or many of the Roma tomatoes. Try to find tomatoes that grow on determinate vines (vs indeterminate) as these will spent less time growing vines and more time growing fruit.
The 6 weeks you have lost in growing time means you won’t have a huge harvest this year, but if you get them in soon you should still have plenty for fresh eating and, hopefully, canning!
Zucchini and yellow crook neck squash are actually quite fast growing. Look for varieties that have a maturity date of around 60 to 70 days and you should still have lots of time to grow more zucchini than you can eat! You could also look for a patty pan squash with a short maturity date.
Most bush type green beans have a maturity date of around 60 to 70 days, so there is plenty of summer left for beans. In fact, I don’t make my last planting of green beans until mid July and still have a great harvest, incuding plenty to can following these easy instructions.
If you would still like to plant a melon, you have a little bit of time left, but choose the small “ice box” types as those take much less time to mature. You can also get cantaloupe planted now. Again, don’t expect a huge harvest this year, but you will still have a few melons that will be ready before the frost comes.
If you can find the seed still around at your local nurseries, there is time to grow a nice crop of potatoes. In fact, you could continue to plant potatoes until mid July in most areas of the country and still get a nice harvest of small roasting potatoes. This time of the year I would stay away from the big “baking” potatoes, like russets. You are running short of time to get them to maturity.
Cucumbers are a good late season planter. Again, you may not get the huge yields you are used to, but by planting seeds now, you can still have a fairly respectable crop.
If you can still find a package of onion sets at your local nursery, they will do okay this time of year. You won’t get a lot of large onions but you will have plenty of smaller onions and green onions. Don’t try growing onions from seed or starts this late in the year.
Many herbs will still do well if planted this time of year. It would be best to plant starts instead of trying to plant seeds.
Cool Weather Veggies
You can still have an awesome harvest of cool weather veggies by planning now to get them planted in late summer and early fall. Nearly anything you would normally plant in the spring time, you can also plant in the fall. A good, solid summer vegetable garden can extend into the cooler months, if you jump on it now!
These plants are broccoli, cabbage, kale, and kohlrabi. If you grow your own seedlings, mid June is a good time to start a fall crop of all these yummy cool season veggies. If you plant any of the cole crops indoors now, they will be ready for planting out in the garden in about 6 to 8 weeks.
That means you will be planting them around mid-August, and they will mature in October when the weather has cooled back to those temperatures that cole crops love so much! You may find many of these veggies are even tastier in the fall because a night or two of frost helps to sweeten the flavor. If you end up with a lot of extras, try dehydrating them for quick meals, as in these instructions for dehydrating cabbage.
You can start replanting lettuce about 6 to 8 weeks before your first frost (for us that’s August 1 – 15). Fall planted lettuce can last unprotected in your garden until early December, depending on where you live.
Most people see spinach as a spring only crop, but it does very well in the fall! Again look at planting about 6 weeks before your first frost and you will be able to start harvesting in late October. Then cover those plants with a cold frame or hoop house and they will grow over the winter for an extra early spring crop.
Carrots, turnips, beets and radishes all do well in the fall and you can start replanting them around 6 weeks before your last frost.
So as you can see, all is not lost for your summer garden! Get out there this weekend to put some seeds and plants in your garden so you can still have an awesome harvest this year!
Guest Post by Rick Stone of www.ourstoneyacres.com.