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Tips for planting late-season garden veggies

Farm and Garden: It might be summer, but it can still be planting time in the garden for these late-season crops.

June 4, 2024

3 Min Read
Little boy and woman planting seeds in a backyard garden
SUMMER PLANTING: It’s not too late to plant garden vegetables. If fact, some veggies taste better when planted late and harvested in autumn. SbytovaMN/Getty Images

by Sarah Browning

What are some late-season garden vegetables that I can consider planting this summer? Many gardeners think vegetables can only be planted in spring, but that’s not true. New plantings can be done throughout the summer. Here are a few tips for creating a bountiful late-summer vegetable garden.

Planting for late summer or fall harvest starts in July and continues through August. Most cool-season vegetables grow as well as, or better, than those planted in spring. And the flavors of vegetables maturing during autumn often are sweeter and milder than those harvested during hot summer weather.

What to plant?

New plantings of lettuce and other greens can be done all summer. Greens harvested using the “cut and come again” method can be harvested two to three times, then replaced by a new planting.

For midsummer planting, look for lettuce cultivars listed as heat tolerant or slow bolting. These perform better in hot weather than other types, which are stimulated by heat to go to seed or can develop a bitter flavor.

Heat-loving crops can also be planted if fast-maturing cultivars are used — those requiring only about 50-60 days from seed to harvest. Here are some examples:

Bush beans. Provider (50 days), Straight ‘N Narrow (53 days).

Related:Tips for watering your garden, fruit trees

Bush wax beans. Gold (52 days), Slenderwax (56 days).

Peas. Mr. Big (58-72 days), Wando (68 days).

Peas (edible pod). Sugar Ann (58 days), Sugar Sprint (58 days).

Or plant cool-season crops and utilize their natural ability to tolerate cold weather at the end of the growing season. Cool-season crops are grouped into two categories — semi-hardy or hardy — based on tolerance to cold weather.

Semi-hardy vegetables include beets, Chinese cabbage, collards, green onions, mustard greens, potatoes, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard and lettuce (bibb and leaf). Semi-hardy plants can stand light frost, 30-32 degrees F, which gives them a long growing period if they are planted in July.

Hardy vegetables can stand several frosts but are killed when temperatures drop near 20 degrees unless provided protection by a high tunnel, low tunnel, greenhouse, cold frame or other protection method. These include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kale, rutabagas and turnips.

New transplants of broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower can be started indoors six to eight weeks before you plan to plant them outside. 

Site prep

Midsummer plantings do much better on soils that have been prepared and allowed to settle for one or two weeks. Areas used for spring crops can be reused for the fall garden, but be sure to rotate crops. For example, don’t plant fall cabbage where you had spring cabbage. Plant something from a different vegetable family in the spring cabbage area.

For the best results when planting during the heat and dry conditions of midsummer, follow these suggestions to get your new plantings off to a good start:

  1. Prepare a shallow, firm seedbed. Avoid deep plowing at this time.

  2. Soak the seeds overnight before planting.

  3. Plant seeds slightly deeper than recommended for spring gardens.

  4. After plants are well established, thin them to the proper spacing and apply mulch.

Browning is a Nebraska Extension educator based in Lincoln.

Please email your farmstead landscaping, turf, forestry or gardening questions to [email protected].

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