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What to Plant in July for a Late Summer/Early Fall Harvest

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What to Plant in July for a Late Summer/Early Fall Harvest

July 9, 2024

You’ve pulled your neglected bolted lettuce and harvested your hardneck garlic. You have holes in your garden bed and it seems a waste not to fill them. But with what? July is a great time to sow the same vegetables you planted in the spring, so that you can enjoy a late summer and early fall harvest.

But why plant what appear to be cool season vegetables in the middle of summer? Depending on your garden, planting these is actually a great idea!

First step is to gather information: 1) the first frost date for your area and 2) the days to harvest (the seed packet of the vegetable you want to plant will have that info). Then count backwards from the frost date. If the plant has time to mature before first frost, it’s time to plant! Just keep in mind, the average frost date is just that, an average over many decades. It can be sooner or later and not a hard date on the calendar. Also, remember that some of what you plant may be frost-tolerant and can handle a bit of cold without any harm.

So what can you plant now, in midsummer? We’ll break this down into groups.

Roots

Above: Photograph by Erin Boyle, from Field Guide: Carrots.

Beets, carrots, and turnips can be planted midsummer for a fall harvest. The already warm soil gives these cooler weather vegetables a head start. Beets can be ready within as little as 40 days with the baby varieties, and nearly 60 days with the Bulls Blood variety. If growing carrots, remember to keep the soil consistently moist until they are established; the soil cannot dry out. Radishes can be succession sown monthly as they can be ready in as little as 30 days. Turnips, such as Hakurei, are ready in less than 40 days, whereas the traditional purple-topped variety can take about 50 days.

Leaves

Above: Photograph by Laura Silverman, from Gardening 101: Kale.

If greens is what you’re looking to harvest, you’re in luck. Not only do you have a great variety to choose from, but there’s the added benefit of only needing to wait for enough leaves to harvest. There are many types of kale, which you can continue to harvest well into late fall and even winter depending on where you live. Collards also fall into this category but are even hardier than kale and tolerate temperatures in the 20s. Chard is not as hardy but still can survive a light frost.

For spinach and lettuce, you’ll need a slightly different approach, since both tend to bolt in the heat. First choose slow bolting varieties if possible and plant them where they can get some relief from the summer sun—e.g., under your tomatoes, pole beans, or corn. Spinach is cold hardy, and if you have mild winters, you may be able to overwinter it. As for lettuce, consider the Chalupa or Monte Carlo varieties. They are both romaine types that can be sown in summer for an early fall harvest.

Heads

Above: Photograph by Kendra Wilson, from Gardening 101: Cabbage.

More cool-weather suggestions here! Broccoli needs about two months to form heads, and cabbage shares the same cold tolerance as collards but needs up to three months to mature. Why not try Caraflex, an unusual small cone shaped variety that’s ready in 68 days. Brussel sprouts may require up to four months to mature. If you are planning to have sprouts for Thanksgiving, plant now. Cauliflower has a range of colors and days to maturities to choose from. The white Fujiyama can be ready to harvest in about 45 days, the orange Clementine is ready in about 55 days, and Purple Moon is ready in just over 60 days.

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