As we approach July you might think the time for starting a garden is over. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are very few vegetables you can’t grow sometime in the window from now until November first. Unless a vegetable takes over 100 days to mature, it can probably still be grown. Now, there are some things like peas which won’t be as good as they are when planted in spring, but they can still mature.
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For the purpose of this article I’ll divide growing vegetables into two groups, those that need cool weather when the mature and those that need hot. The former are things that are planted very early in spring. Celery, radish, lettuce, peas and broccoli for example love growing in cool weather and dislike the heat of summer. Tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, pepper and eggplant all need warm weather to mature. This is by no means a complete list, but you get the idea.
This time of the year you can still plant warm weather crops. I haven’t even planted my beans yet and will put them into the spot where the peas are right now when they mature. The area where I had radishes last month now is planted with edamame.
Before I plant, I mix in a bag or two of dehydrated compost and weed the area well. I am also planting carrots, beets, certain Asian greens and another round of lettuce. Since lettuce needs cooler weather to mature, I plant it in the shade of the tomatoes where the soil is cooler and I find the lettuce grows a bit better.
It’s not just vegetables you can still plant. There are often some discounts on perennials after July 4th and some nurseries will offer deals on trees and shrubs as well. The summer isn’t a bad time for planting; it’s just more difficult to keep things growing because of the heat and the lack of regular rainfall. In summer most of our rain comes from scattered showers so if you do plant anything, it will need you to help with watering. Once September arrives, the soil stays moist longer and you won’t have to water as regularly.
There are a few things you shouldn’t plant right now. If you are thinking about planting a lawn or patching a lawn I highly recommend waiting 8 weeks. Grass needs to be kept evenly moist to germinate and then the soil can’t be allowed to dry out. The success rate of a lawn planted after June 1st is very low. If you wait until early September until mid-October your lawn has a much greater chance of survival.
Bulbs also shouldn’t be put in the ground now. If you have old bulbs from last fall or from a plant you bought this spring you can plant it and hope for the best, but fall is really the best time for these spring blooming favorites.
Lastly, I wouldn’t be moving plants right now unless you absolutely must. Disturbing a plant in the heat and sun of summer is a recipe for death. If you can just wait until late August, only another 8 weeks, the plant will be much happier and so will you.