Summer Solstice is right around the corner, that magic moment when the garden is full of crops from two seasons for a few days before the transition from spring to summer is complete. Abundant harvests of salad greens, cucumbers, snap peas, zucchini, and green beans are just a part of the magic moment when spring and summer harvests fill our baskets. It will only be a week or so longer that we’ll have lots of broccoli and cabbage, but don’t despair! They will be replaced with limas, southern peas, okra, melons, and many summer successions of corn, green beans, and cilantro. Don’t forget to keep your summer garden harvested regularly for best yields. This is especially important with long harvest crops like pole beans and okra. If you let a few beans or okra pods mature they send a message that says your job is done so the plant stops produce. So pick early and often.
Continue to sow regular successions of beans, corn, cucumbers, and summer squash. Begin sowing very heat resistant lettuces like Sierra, Jericho, and Slo-bolt every 7 days under shade cloth. At three weeks transplant seedlings to a spot with afternoon shade on an overcast day. Transplant leeks when seedlings are between the diameter of a pencil lead to a pencil.
Late June is also when we start our summer planting for Fall harvest with Brussels Sprouts in a shaded seedling bed to be joined by seedings of broccoli, cabbage, collards, and other brassicas in July. Our own Ken Bezilla offers great tips for what to plant when and how to get it to germinate in his Fall/Winter Growing Guide.
On our farm the summer heat and rains encourage weeds. Mulching well and using a scuffle hoe to get rid of weeds when they are small saves a lot of work later.
Remember to keep yourself well hydrated while weeding, early and often is best!
Ira Wallace of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and author of The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast and the newly released Grow Great Vegetables in Virginia