I’m guessing I’m not the only one who thinks of the summer season as June, July, and August. Not technically correct, I know, but it just feels right. So if it also feels like it’s too late to plant veggies and herbs, let’s just sit down ’til that feeling goes away.
Some veggies love late summer planting
To begin with, think leafy: various lettuces, Swiss chard, bok choy, arugula, mustard, and other greens…quick-sprouting and fast-growing crops that go from seed to table in 60 days or less. These “cool season” vegetables thrive when August nights start getting cooler and daytime temperatures also moderate as we approach the fall. Purchased and planted as seedlings, your harvest will come even sooner. As a bonus, many of these crops will tolerate a light frost with temperatures as low as the mid-30’s.
Another reason to plant these veggies for a late-season harvest is the problem of “bolting.” Crops like and lettuce will send up seed stalks or “bolt” when they’re maturing in the heat of summer. Once the seeds have been produced, the plants themselves start to shut down.
Excessive heat can also make the leaves bitter, especially if the plants haven’t been watered consistently and well. Planting in August and having the plants mature as temperatures begin to cool is the perfect answer.
Think of it as a second spring season for your vegetable garden!
Other options: radishes, peas, carrots, and beets
Late-season plantings that fruit (meaning they produce something other than just leaves) are especially fun as a family project.
Getting kids involved…. planting, watering, watching, and waiting for something they can actually identify as a vegetable can be full of teachable moments. Radishes are fast and fun—if you don’t like their snappy taste, try roasting them or slices and sautéed in olive oil for a new flavorful treat! Carrots that take 60 days or less area great, and they get sweeter tasting with colder temperatures. Beets can be grown now, too, for their leafy tops or for their roots.
And, you don’t need a yard or in-ground garden—these seeds and young transplants can also be planted in container gardens or window boxes!
Don’t forget the herbs!
With COVID 19 prompting an increasing interest in cooking and eating at home, this is a great time to start an herb garden or refresh the herb garden you might already have.
Tagawa’s carries a large selection of herbs year ’round. Many of the varieties would happily spend the next several weeks outdoors while temperatures remain mild. Herbs growing in small- to medium-sized pots can then transition to a very bright location indoors as the seasons change. Several of the most popular herbs also come up very quickly from seed.
Great choices for indoor herb gardening include basil, chives, cilantro, mint, oregano, parsley, and thyme. Basil likes it a bit warmer, around 70 degrees. The others do best with slightly cooler temps.
However you spend this last month of what feels like summer, don’t be shy about experimenting with a few simple late-season crops. It’s a great way to extend your harvest of home-grown food.