Yes, you heard us correctly -- spring isn't the only time to plant new veggies and herbs! In contrast to common perception, the months of July and August are a perfect time to add new plants to your garden.
You might be wondering if this means that you can replant your tomatoes and summer squash in the heat of summer. Unfortunately, not. Luckily, however, while some plants grow their best when planted in early or late spring, there are other varieties that will benefit from summer planting.
There are many types of vegetables that thrive from planting in the mid- and late summer. And, by the time fall comes around, you'll have abundant crop for your dinner table!
Here's What You Should Know About Summer Planting
As we said above, summer planting isn't unheard of. Many experienced gardeners take advantage of the summer months to ensure a full-year harvest. And, it's no wonder -- the summer is really the perfect time to plant some of the most beloved vegetables.
To ensure that crops planted in the summer have a successful harvest, try succession planting. After harvesting a crop from spring planting, clean out the area, amend the soil, and sow fresh seedlings. This way you can make the most of your garden.
Harvest in the Fall
Just as veggies planted in spring will flourish in your summer garden, most of those planted in summer months will be ready-to-go in the fall! This way, summer planting will let you extend your garden much later into the year.
However, this means that not only must these crops tolerate the hot weather of mid-summer, they must withstand the cool weather and frost of fall. Thus, choosing the right plants for your garden is key.
Plan Your Crops and Schedule by Your Hardiness Zone
Hardiness zones are determined by the climate of your geographical location. These are used to determine when and where different plants will thrive.
When planning your garden, locate your plant hardiness zone. This will help you determine what crops are best to plant in your area in June and July and when you should do it.
What Kind of Crops Are Planted in the Summer?
Many of the crops planted for a fall garden are cool-season vegetables: plants that thrive in cooler weather. However, when planted in the summer, these crops will often encounter problems -- the most prevalent of which is called bolting.
Bolting occurs when a plant "goes to seed," or in other words, starts to produce seeds instead of leaves. Bolting mainly happens due to heat, which is common during the days of summer. It happens most commonly in leafy crops, like lettuce and arugula.
Thus, the best crops to plant in your garden in the summer will be bolt-resistant cool-season veggies.
What to Plant in July
The climate of your area will play a large part in what you can grow. In cooler areas, July is just the beginning of warmer weather. Moist soil and warm temperatures will allow for different plants to thrive than those in the hot, dry climate of the South.
Ideal crops for any climate:
- Beans (Zones 3-8)
Bush and pole beans thrive in warm soil and air making July an ideal time for planting.
- Brussel Sprouts (Zones 3-9)
Brussel sprouts take a long time to grow before harvest. If transplanted in July, they'll be ready right in time for fall.
- Kale (Zones 3-9)
Kale is typically planted mid-July through mid-August and is harvested in the fall and winter.
- Cucumbers (Zones 3-8)
The first two weeks of July is a perfect time to plant cucumbers, especially if you live in Zones 5, 6, or 7. They'll face less stress for pests and cucumber beetles, and the crop will be ready right in time for autumn.
Ideal crops for cooler zones:
- Broccoli (Zones 3-6)
Broccoli thrives in fall weather, and is a perfect addition to your garden in July.
- Carrots (Zones 3-5)
If planted in a cooler zone, carrots will yield a nice crop for fall. However, hotter temperatures will add stress to the plant, so avoid sowing if you are in a higher zone.
What to Plant in August
For most fall plants, August will be the most practical time to begin growing. There will be less exposure to the summer heat and ample time to grow before the first frost.
Ideal crops for any climate:
- Beans (Zones 3-8)
Early August offers ideal warm soil and air temperatures to grow bush and pole beans. However, make sure not to sow any later than the first 2 weeks of the month.
- Cucumbers (Zones 3-9)
Vine or bush cucumbers are a perfect addition to your garden in August for fall harvest.
- Lettuce (Zones 3-8)
Lettuce can be sown in August in preparation for the fall. The best varieties are early harvest, as they will be done before there is cold weather.
- Radishes (Zones 3-9)
Radishes grow very well in August, as long as heat conditions are not very high. They also grow fast and can be ready to harvest in just a month.
Ideal crops for cooler climates:
- Beets (Zones 2-5)
Beets thrive when planted in mid-summer and can even stand a little frost in the fall.
Final Summer Gardening Tips
- Provide shade! Cool season veggies will grow even better if you provide partial cover from the heat of the sun. To do this, try using a wire hoop, shade netting, or any slightly shaded area.
- Consistently water! Watering well will allow your plants to establish healthy roots. Make sure to do this in the morning to avoid evaporation in the afternoon heat.
- Transplant and harvest crops during cooler parts of the day! A rainy or cloudy day may be ideal.
- Don't wait until it's too late! Crops planted in the summer might require an extra two-week maturation period. Account for this when planning your planting date.
- Use an organic fertilizer! Unlike synthetic fertilizers, organic plant food will not inject harmful chemicals into the soil and groundwater around your garden.
There are so many varieties of plants you can add to your garden during the summer months! And, by late summer and early fall, you'll have some great new ingredients to add to your kitchen table.
If you're looking for more advice on gardening year-round, check out our Spring Gardening Tips. Happy planting!