The longest day of the year is past and I hope all of your gardens are well mulched and producing abundantly. If things are going well you should have your first vine ripened tomatoes soon. Now is the time to start focusing on “summer planting for fall and winter harvest”.
Early July is the time to start broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower in flats for your second season garden or you can sow your fall brassicas directly in a rich raised bed under spun polyester row cover to keep insects off. Plant it thickly and on a wet day in August (4-6 weeks later) when the plants are bigger, you can space the seedlings out into other beds. Transplant Brassicas at 4 leaves(4-6 weeks)and other greens earlier. Keep them under row cover until they are large and sturdy. Harvest the spring potatoes 2 weeks after the tops have died back. Cut back all the celery mid-month to encourage a second harvest.
Direct sow bush cucumber seeds like Spacemaster now for a bonus second season harvest. These cucumber plants bear fruit earlier than vining types, and they are easy to care for and harvest into the fall season and are perfect for containers. Continue direct sowing beans, carrots, salad greens, beets, and radish seeds weekly or bi- weekly for a healthy fall harvest.
Sow collards, Swiss chard, leaf beet, kale, winter radishes, and more Chinese cabbage in late July. Keep up harvesting vegetables every other day and planting more seeds every week.
For garden fresh salad all summer and fall plant salad greens every week. Soil temp must be below 80F. If very hot cover seed rows with ice, or sow in plastic flat in fridge. Choose a fast-growing summer crisp lettuce like Sierra, increasingly popular seasonal mixes, appetizing mesclun or many other flavorful summer salad greens like Malabar spinach or Goldberger purslane.
For further resources on planning your summer sowings, check out: Brett Grohsgal’s article Simple Winter Gardening, our article on Summer Succession Plantings, and our Fall and Winter Planting Guide.
Keep things weeded, mulched, and watered. Enjoy the harvest of beans, beets, blueberries, cantaloupes, carrots, celeriac, celery, chard, corn, cow peas, cucumbers, eggplant, hot peppers, lettuce, okra, onions, peppers, plums, raspberries, scallions, squash, tomatoes, and zucchini.
Ira Wallace Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and author of The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast