By Jane Milliman
Ah, summer! Time to fix a mint julep, sit back, and enjoy that beautiful garden. But before you get too comfy, consider this: Midsummer is a great time to start a new crop of vegetables and to sow flower seeds for next year.
Vegetables that enjoy cooler temperatures are ideal candidates for late sowings. These include carrots, beets, chard, leaf lettuce, and brassicas such as broccoli, cauliflower, radish, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. Peas are a little trickier because they struggle in the heat. Sow seeds directly in the ground 60 days before your expected first frost and you may have a crop to harvest—if temperatures don’t linger in the 80s.
Lettuce, right, is easy to grow from seed, and you can stagger your sowings so you have fresh crops well beyond first frost, especially if you use a cold frame. When sowing seeds in summer, take special care to prevent them from frying in the sun. If you use flats, water them generously and keep them out of the wind. If you sow directly into the ground, water the area lightly before you set the seeds, cover them with a little soil, and gently water again. Then blanket the seeds with something to keep in moisture; straw works well, and so does a board. Remove the covering as soon as you see sprouts.
Good to Know: It’s not just about vegetables. Midsummer is also a good time to sow biennials such as wallflower, hollyhocks, Canterbury bells, and foxglove, right. Started now, those plants have plenty of time to get a good first year’s growth, which means they’ll almost certainly bloom next year.
Fall offers a second lease on life for many edible gardens. Sometimes it’s even better for growing vegetables than summer. See what you can grow this autumn.Learn More