Sunday, July 31, 2022
With the dog days of summer, comes peak harvests of summer vegetables. Sweet corn, tomatoes, summer squashes (like zucchini and yellow straight neck), peppers of all types (sweet and hot), Mediterranean herbs, cucumbers, okra, apples, peaches, pears, grapes, snap beans, melons, figs, eggplant, honey, artichokes, tomatillos are all in season this month.
At the same time, it is also the month to plant for all and winter harvests. It can be hard to make room for new seedlings, but your pantry will thank you in the cool days that are coming.
A secret to maximizing your fruiting vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, snap beans, tomatillos, and summer squash is to harvest them continuously. A plant’s driving force is to reproduce so by continuing to harvest, it causes the plant to put on more fruits. There are many options to preserve the extras: Freezing the extras for winter, drying Dehydrate or sun dry your extra veggies, canning Easy, low tox canning of summer's bounty, and pickling Make your own pickles without a store bought seasoning mix.
Continue to fertilize with a natural, organic fertilizer every month for veggies in the ground and semiweekly for those in containers. When fertilizing, scratch the fertilizer into the soil around the plant. Nitrogen is the one component of fertilizing that is most used during the season. If you leave the fertilizer on top of the ground, you will need twice as much as the nitrogen will off gas into the atmosphere if not covered. Summer garden tips
Keeping consistent moisture to your plants is key. Irregular watering causes tomatoes to crack and blossom end rot. Make sure your garden is getting water weekly either from rain or watering, being sure to water deeply at the base of the plant and not on the leaves. Many warm weather lovers like squash, tomatoes and cucumbers are susceptible to fungal diseases. If your garden is susceptible to fungal diseases, you can continue using a natural preventative fungicide spray weekly to keep it at bay and boost your garden's production.
|Summer peppers and tomatoes|
Planting for fall and winter vegetables
I know it sounds crazy, but now is the time to start planting for fall and winter harvests. You need to plant early enough for your veggies to be full size when frosts hit. Add 14 days to the days to maturity listed on the seed packet and back it up from your last frost date for the time to plant your seeds.
Daylight hours determine the growth rate of plants. Since the days are getting shorter, it will take longer for the plants to come to full maturity in the waning daylight hours of fall than the lengthening hours of spring. By the first of November, all growth has come to a full standstill until the beginning of January.
If you can't pick up transplants like broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, kale, and herbs at big box stores or a local nursery, you can get transplants from on line nurseries if you want to go that route. Farmers markets may also have them.
I have started doing more from seed. I re-use 6 pack containers or peat pots, put starting mix in them, water well, then add seeds, covering with soil per packet instructions. I just leave them on our covered deck in a tray so that I can keep them moist. Seeds sprout super fast this time of year. The other advantage is that they are already acclimated to the summer temps so do well when transplanted when started outdoors.
Fall planting guide for cool season crops
August is the month for the rest of the greens (arugula, corn salad, lettuce, miner’s lettuce, spinach, mustard, endive), kohlrabi, onions, scallions, cabbage plants, radishes, peas, fava beans and turnips.
In September, plant more greens, carrots, and radishes. For our Zone 7a garden, the first 2 weeks of September are prime for planting lettuce. Try different cold hardy varieties planted at the same time. Different varieties mature at different times, giving you an on-going harvest.
October is the month to plant garlic for next year’s harvest. Time to plant garlic! With growing tips......
For more details on varieties to plant, Cold season crops for your edible garden
Caring for your new seeds and transplants
Like in the spring, newly sown seeds need moisture to sprout. Keep seeds and transplants moist but not wet until they get their first real set of leaves and are well established. Then water as needed.
Many crops can be harvested into December and beyond without any cover, depending on how cold fall is. Some get sweeter with some frost, like carrots, chard, and lettuce. With cover, you can harvest all the way through winter and get a jump start on spring!
Below is the portable greenhouse I use. I can get 10 pots under its cover. It could also be placed directly in the garden as well. I use it to extend the fall and winter harvest for potted greens, broccoli and cabbage. Prepare for hard freeze
|My portable greenhouse|
A quick reminder, save the seeds from your best performers to plant next year! You can replant seeds from any heirlooms or open pollinated plants. Not only does it save you money, but it also gives you the plants that do the best under your garden and zone conditions.