Good news, you haven't missed your opportunity to plant garden vegetables and herbs this summer. There is still time to get outdoors and sow some seeds to enjoy your own home grown fresh vegetables and herbs. While herbs grow rather quickly, vegetables need a little more time to reach harvest. Most seed packets will note the number of days needed to harvest.
Geographic locations receiving their first frost around 3rd week in September can plant vegetable seeds with a time to harvest of 65 days or less. If you live in a location where your first frost is later than 3rd week in September, you will have more growing days available.
On the flip side if you live an area where your first frost is earlier than 3rd week in September, you will need to consider planting vegetables with a shorter time to harvest. For example, Black Beauty zucchini with 44 days to harvest. To determine your first frost date, go to "The Farmers Almanac."
There are a wide variety of vegetables that can still be planted to be enjoyed this summer. Good vegetable choices to plant now would be cherry-type tomatoes, which usually have a shorter time to harvest time than larger types of tomatoes.
Other decent choices would be zucchini, cucumbers, green beans and kale with time to harvest less than 65 days. These same vegetables often can be planted twice in the growing season to be enjoyed for a longer duration in the summer. Buying plants vs. seeds would be an important consideration, as plants will definitely shorten your time to harvest and allow you to enjoy your vegetables sooner.
Green beans a tasty vegetable that everyone enjoy, is easy to grow and can be harvested in 45-50 days.
Some vegetables, like cool crop vegetables, can tolerate a light frost and continue to be productive, which makes them ideal, to plant mid-summer for fall harvest. Cool crops like leaf lettuce, peas, cabbage, broccoli, and spinach grow best when planted in early spring, preferring cooler temperatures to grow.
It does not mean these vegetables won't grow now. They may grow a little slower when the weather is hotter, depending on your particular climate. Planting cool crops mid-summer is well worth the effort to extend the growing season of your garden.
Planting cool crops mid-summer can be a bit of a challenge, particularly in getting the seeds to germinate. Cool crops prefer the cooler and moister soil conditions of springtime. To achieve better germination results, lightly water the soil after planting the seeds and then keep watering them every other day until they come up, unless it rains.
Continue to water them every three days until well established, giving the newly emerged plants time to grow a good root base. It will take approximately two weeks for this to happen. Then you can let mother nature take over, unless your conditions are extremely dry, then keep watering once a week.
You can plant herbs now to enhance your meals this summer. Favorites like basil, parsley, and cilantro can easily be grown from seeds or plants. Cilantro will often grow up, seed out and be done growing for the season. To enjoy cilantro throughout the summer, plant every four to five weeks for continued harvest.
Another way to enjoy herbs is plant them in a large pot for your patio. Enjoy herbs from your patio and move the pot indoors in the fall for winter enjoyment. Keep them in a sunny window and you may be able to enjoy them all winter.
Basil, parsley, rosemary, and thyme all do pretty well indoors. Be sure to keep them well-watered, herbs take more water than regular house plants. Water recommendation for herbs would be two to three times a week, letting soil dry before watering again.
Go ahead, get out there and enjoy some fresh air and grow some vegetables and herbs this summer. There is nothing more gratifying than going out to your garden and grabbing an armful of fresh veggies and herbs for your dinner table, the taste and quality are unparalleled.
A perfect quote from Thomas Jefferson, he was quite a gardener in his day. "Agriculture is our wisest pursuit because it will, in the end, contribute most to real wealth, good morals and happiness."
Photos property of Valerie Boese.