Typically, one plants in the spring and harvests in the summer and fall. But what you may not know is that you can extend your growing season (and your harvest) by planting crops in mid to late summer.
For your late summer sowing to succeed, consider plants which can tolerate cooler temperatures. Leafy greens like Kale, totsoi, and arugula tolerate cooler weather and frost well, and will add to your harvest, according to writer Barbara Pleasant (1). Additionally, she writes that leafy greens tend to be sweeter when harvested during colder months than during hotter ones. Where growing seasons are shorter, these cold weather crops can give your harvest (and salads!) a boost throughout the fall.
For plants more sensitive to frost, like squashes, melons, or tomatoes, cover your plants at night. How you cover your plants is your prerogative—you can get as fancy as miniature greenhouses or sheet plastic draped over the plants and held down with rocks (2). Adding extra mulch will insulate the roots of your plants from the cold. Both of these methods may be necessary if you started your plants outdoors after the last frost date, but they will ensure you’ll get the crop you anticipated getting for all those weeks…
Additionally, any covering for plants you fabricate in the fall can be used again in the spring, that is, if you want to plant early before the last frost date.
Another plant to consider planting in mid to late summer is raddish and parsnips—I received seeds for these two plants in the mail for my subscription to Mike the Average gardener, and really I didn’t know what to do with them. But after some research, I discovered the pairing of radish and parsnip was more beneficial than I had anticipated. Whether by consequence or good planning, radish and turnip seeds can be planted together, because radishes will germinate quickly and be ready for harvest just as seedlings begin to take hold from the parsnips (3). And, if you want to keep your carrots and parsnips outside in your garden through the winter, you can—just cover them with a thick layer of mulch.
One of the joys of gardening at home is maximizing yield—and usually all it takes to maximize is a little extra knowledge. So keep reading! Keep learning! Share, and educate others.
About the Author
Dave Merian is a contributing writer for Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC the exclusive home for the Seeds of the Month Club.