How to plant a summer vegetable garden for a fall harvest
Kale, cabbage, collards, cauliflower—all of these delicious veggies and more can be planted well into the summer months. Many gardeners steer clear of summer planting out of fear that their crops won’t survive the brutal summer heat, but planting hardy vegetables now can actually provide you with a great fall harvest.
If you’re a patient of a medical weight loss program, a vegetable garden could be one way to plant the seeds of better health. Plowing and planting will provide you with plenty of exercise, while your homegrown produce is sure to bring some flavor, color and nutrition to the table. Are you ready to get your hands dirty? Here are some tips on how to start growing this summer:
KNOW YOUR FIRST FROST DATE.
To ensure a great fall harvest, you’ll first need to figure out when the date of the first frost will be in your area. You should plant vegetables that will be mature before then to prevent your crop from being decimated by frost damage. Some plants take several months to mature and should be planted earlier in the summer to ensure fall harvest, but many others require less time and can be planted as late as August. Though frost damage can also be overcome by selecting especially frost-resistant plants or covering your crops before frost strikes, the best strategy is to have your vegetables harvested before the onset of winter leaves you cold.
The first frost of the season changes every year. Take a look at Old Farmer’s Almanac’s Frost Chart to determine when things will be getting too chilly in your area.
READY THE SOIL.
Regardless of the time of year, every garden needs nourishing, nutrient-rich soil in which to flourish. To achieve the very best soil, you should:
- Turn the dirt over at least once each year. Tilling the earth will help to keep your garden’s soil from becoming hard-packed, which makes it more difficult for roots to grow. It will also spread nutrients more evenly, as areas of the soil may become depleted of certain nutrients as a result of previous plantings.
- Add compost. Sandy soil can drain too quickly and dry plants out, while clay-rich soil drains too slowly and makes it harder for roots to grow. The best way to improve the quality of your soil is to add compost—nutrient-rich, decomposed plant matter. You can make your own compost, but you can also buy it if your green thumb hasn’t developed far enough to have a compost pile in the back yard.
Though your selection of veggies will vary based on individual taste and time of planting, here are some good ones to get in the ground during the summer months:
- July: Potatoes, broccoli, beets, cabbage, carrots, parsnips, kale, turnips, kohlrabi, spinach
- August: Mustard greens, spinach, turnips, cabbage, arugula, onion
Because many of these plants prefer to mature in the cooler fall weather, planting in the summer can actually be of great benefit to them. Many varieties of these plants are specifically developed for summer planting so do a little research when you buy your seeds to ensure that your plants are best suited for the heat.
JUST ADD WATER.
Especially in the summer heat, keeping your plants hydrated is absolutely crucial. This can be done in whatever way you prefer, but you should plan your watering around rainfall to avoid oversaturation. Some people like to water by hose or watering can, others like sprinkler or drip systems. Just figure out what you like best and keep your plants from drying out. Adding a layer of mulch can be helpful as well, as mulch will keep the ground moist and prevent weeds from attacking your crops.
If you follow these tips, you’ll be sure to have some great produce by the time fall rolls around. Just be sure to keep your plants and yourself hydrated in the heat of the summer sun.