Watering vegetables and herbs in raised bed

Summer in the Garden: 9 Favorites to Plant in July/August

July and August are better known for harvesting than planting. Carrots, celery, garlic, onions, potatoes, beans, corn, cucumbers, and eggplant are just a few of the many warm and cool weather crops that can be harvested around this time. But summer can be for planting, too!

No matter whether you grow vegetables or flowers in your garden, July and August offer plenty of opportunity.

Heat-loving vegetables tend to be robust, hardy, and easy to care for. Throughout the hotter part of the year, there are fewer plants that need to be started under grow lights to flourish. In fact, there’s something for just about every taste when it comes to sowing seeds outside in summer.

Let’s take a closer look at some summertime favorites:

1. Beets

Beets are durable, grow quickly, and offer many different ways to enhance your diet: Both the bulb and greens are edible. Use bolt-resistant beet varieties to avoid rapid maturation in warm weather. Germination should be expected in 5-8 days in warm soil. Soaking seeds beforehand will accelerate the process but is not required.

2. Swiss Chard

Chard will delight you with its bright and vibrant stems, adding a pop of color and mild flavor to your salads. It is known for quick yields in cool weather but is also heat tolerant. Prepare soil with compost two weeks before planting and use 5-10-10 fertilizer on planting day. Plant seeds at ten-day intervals for a month.

3. Broccoli

High temperatures can affect the harvestable head of your broccoli, so the goal is to bring it to maturity before or after the highest temperatures. Warm soil greatly accelerates the plant’s development. Be sure your planting site has full sun exposure for 6-8 hours a day. Moist, slightly acidic soil works best. A word to the wise: certain insects love to feast on broccoli plants and other members of the cabbage family, so you may want to consider using an eco-friendly pesticide like neem oil or covering your crop with protective netting.

4. Carrots

Sow your carrot seeds directly into the garden, tending them with frequent, shallow watering to keep the soil friendly for small seeds. A layer of vermiculite or fine compost can prevent soil from forming a hard crust that will prevent germination. Remember, carrots might take up to three weeks to emerge.

5. Okra

Okra thrives in the heat and may take as little as 60 days to be ready for harvest. One way to prepare okra for planting day is to soak the seeds overnight. A pair of plants can provide many pods throughout the season. Plus, the leaves are edible and the flowers are quite a taste sensation.

6. Nasturtiums

Like okra, these flowers do well when the seeds have been soaked overnight. Thank to their brilliant red color, nasturtiums are commonly sold for decorative flair. On top of that, their greens offer a spicy flavor reminiscent of arugula. They can be planted to fill gaps and do especially well along the edges of taller plantings.

7. Bush Cucumbers

Compared to cucumbers that grow on vines and require lots of time and attention, bush cucumbers are much less involved. You’ll find yourself enjoying a large fruit set all at once, the secret that makes bush cucumbers the #1 choice for pickling. Small plantings are best to ensure you don’t end up with too much.

8. Summer Squash

Summer squashes are compact and go from seeds to produce in a remarkably short time. It’s not unusual for a gardener to be “drowning in zucchini” after underestimating their yield. Planting late will help you keep squash well into the fall. A series of smaller plantings tends to be easier to protect from pests.

9. Bush Beans

While pole beans can be a hassle all season long, bush beans make the job easier for gardeners of all skill levels. It’s a wise idea to plan ahead to preserve or use your beans. With such a short span to harvest, gardeners may never even encounter common bush bean pests such as the Mexican bean beetle.

With these heat-friendly plants, your garden can remain busy and full of life all summer long. For more  summer gardening tips and techniques, contact us or visit your neighborhood Mendham Garden Center location!