The Garden Muse: Time to think about mid-summer planting

Published 11:30 am Friday, July 21, 2023

the Garden Muse

Dawn Conrad

Wow! I have been so caught up enjoying the gloriously long spring this year that it just occurred to me now is the time to sow some fall crops in the vegetable garden.

Mother Nature has been extra generous in providing us with such clement weather that it seems we have crossed the equator into summer overnight. While most gardens have been churning out the tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and zucchini some of us are growing weary of the harvesting and preserving tasks.

Not to worry…Now is the time to start cleaning up and removing some of the spent plant materials from these spring/summer crops. Remove any tired looking and diseased plants from the garden now. This will provide a clean and tidy planting space with little to no (left over) pests to damage fall crops.

Most all vegetables that are planted as fall crops mature quickly and are frost tolerant. Some of my favorites to get sown in July are beets, bush beans, collards, green onions, kale, leaf lettuce, radishes, and swiss chard. They can tolerate the heat while germinating and will continue to produce into late fall. I would wait a little longer here in Southside Virginia (August) to sow broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and mustard greens.

The only downside to planting seed in the summer is that you need to keep a close eye on moisture content in the soil. Most times irrigation is required for seed germination and to keep seedlings alive during dry hot spells.

It is worth the effort though when fresh vegetables are harvested from the garden in the cool months of fall and early winter.

Dawn Conrad is a Retired Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener, Herbalist, Writer and Artist. She can be contacted at dawn@mygardenmuse.com.