You’re wondering what to plant when. What vegetables can be planted in summer to extend the harvest?
Every gardener has reached a point where they did not get around to filling their garden with vegetables. Either they forgot, life got in the way, the weather wasn’t cooperating, or who knows what. Many will punt in this situation and hope for better luck next year. But wait! What if you knew there were all sorts of vegetables that you can still grow to fill that garden space and maximize your harvest this season?
So you missed the spring vegetable planting season, you still have some garden space left, or some of your vegetables died and you need a replacement. Check out the list below. These short season vegetables can either be planted in summer or fall and still give you a bountiful harvest.
Radishes are one of the quickest vegetables to mature that you can grow. If you missed them in spring, don’t worry, you can get them in the fall. Radishes should not be planted in the hottest part of the summer because they will just not taste as good. Radishes are a cool season crop, so you can plant them in spring and fall and get the same results. Radishes will mature in only three or four weeks, so you can plant them as late as three weeks before your first frost and expect to get a harvest.
Fresh lettuce from the garden just can’t be beat, but if you forgot to plant some in the spring you get another chance in the fall. Lettuce is very much like radishes, in that it does not like the heat. If you live in an area with a hot summer you should wait to plant until the last month of summer for a fall harvest. Lettuce reaches its full size in about two months, but you can start harvesting it before that if you like. Lettuce is quite simple to start indoors so getting a head start inside during the middle of summer will give you some nice seedlings to put out once the temperatures start to come down.
Peas are another cold weather crop that will grow to maturity in a short time. Like lettuce, peas should not be planted in the heat of the summer, but in the last month of summer so that they grow and mature in fall. Peas from the garden are simply smashing and cannot be beat at the store. Peas will mature in around two months, so plant them at least two and a half months before your last frost date to ensure a harvest. Peas also freeze really well, so if you have space and don’t know what to do with it, plant more peas.
Spinach follows the same guidelines as lettuce, except it reaches maturity just a bit faster. Still, planting in the last month of summer is just right. Since spinach grows so quickly, skip the idea of starting from seed and just direct sow the seed in the garden when the time is right. You will have plenty of time for a nice harvest. Spinach is a very healthy addition to a salad, a sandwich , or even as a flavorful pizza option.
Carrots will tolerate summer weather so they can be planted any time. They mature in around two months, so you should plant a row every two weeks all summer long until you get to around two months ahead of your last frost date. Carrots from the garden are lovely but will grow even better if you amend you soil to keep it on the lighter side. They are a root crop after all, so heavy clay will produce different carrots than loamy soil.
Like carrots, beets can be planted any time until mid summer. You can stage plant beets every two weeks for a harvest all season long. If you think you don’t like beets, check out the different varieties that can be found online and give one a try. You might be surprised. Adding beets to dishes in small quantities really adds a unique flavor. Like carrots, beets will appreciate soil that is not too compact for the best results.
Swiss chard is like lettuce but it will tolerate heat better and, as this is true, does well no matter when it is planted. However, it will taste best in cooler temperatures. Chard matures in as little as four to six weeks, so you can plant it in late summer with no worries. The neat thing about chard is that it will tolerate a slight frost, so this extends the season for you.
Green beans are another vegetable that grows to maturity in only 60 days, which means it can be planted all summer long. Unlike many of the other vegetables listed here, beans really prefer the heat, so get them planted in summer while you still have some heat left. Green beans are a great thing to plant while you wait out the heat between cool season crop harvests, so plan your garden accordingly.
Summer squash are a delicious addition to your garden and they are also great for the forgetful gardener since they may be planted in mid summer to still make a great harvest. Most summer squash mature in 6-8 weeks, but the average gardener picks them too late. Don’t be afraid to harvest these beauties when they are still pretty small. A huge summer squash may look cool, but it is past its prime.
Cucumbers are very similar to summer squash in the time to maturity and the last date to plant. Cucumbers planted in mid summer will produce a harvest in fall, so there is no excuse just because you have missed the spring planting season. Also like summer squash, cucumbers should be harvested before they get big, so as soon as they look like they would make a good pickle, eat them up. For summer squach and cucumbers it's a good idea to have a trellis">trellis to keep them off the ground. While not required, it will help to get uniform vegetables without a yellow belly.
I hope you find this helpful. As you can see, there are a variety of vegetables that can be planted or even sown from seed throughout the summer or very early in the fall and still give you a harvest, so you have no more excuses, except the fact that your local nursery may no longer have a great supply of seed packets. If that is the case, find seeds">vegetable seeds online and place your order. Get out there and fill that garden and let the fresh vegetables grow!