It's Not Too Late for a Summer Vegetable Garden
10 suggestions for late planters
Photo By: Image courtesy of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Photo By: Image courtesy of W. Altee Burpee & Co.
Photo By: Image courtesy of Jeff Stafford
Photo By: Photo by Virginia Willis
Photo By: Ball Horticultural Company
Chioggia Pink Beets
Beets are usually thought of as a winter vegetables but work well as a summer crop provided you plant the seeds in full sun or partial shade and keep the soil moist. The plants usually reach maturity after 60 days when they are close to 3 inches in size (they tend to be tough and fibrous if they grow larger). When harvesting, don’t discard the beet greens which are delicious sautéed, steamed or in salads. The health benefits are also exceptional; beets are a tonic for the liver, help purify the blood and provide the body with essential vitamins and minerals.
Zucchini is a popular summer squash, due to the soft, edible skin and meat, and a fast grower. Sow your seeds in a mixture of compost and manure and an all-purpose fertilizer like 13-13-13 and you can expect to start harvesting the zucchini within 45-55 days. This vegetable is very prolific so don’t overplant and allow plenty of room for growth. Zucchini is best eaten when tender (approximately 4 to 6 inches in length) and makes a great side dish or an ingredient in such recipes as black bean and zucchini quesadillas.
Sugar Snap Peas
Sugar snap peas are becoming a favorite among gardeners because the pods are just as delicious and tender as the peas inside. The bush variety seems to do best in summer gardens and some types start to produce peas after 60 days (90 days is more common). The plants do well in areas that get at least 6 hours of sun daily and you will need to support them with wooden stakes or trellises as they grow. Sweet and crunchy, sugar snap peas are ideal for salads, stir-frys and pasta dishes.
Snap beans, which include pole and bush varieties, are another foolproof grower for your vegetable garden and can produce pods within 35 days from seeds. Pole beans have long runners and usually require the support of stakes or trellises but bush beans take up less space and can provide an abundant yield for a small garden.
You can choose between the bush or vining varieties but the vining type will produce more cucumbers. This is an easy vegetable to grow from seed and there should be 18-36 inches between each planting. All they need is full sun, fertile soil and about an inch of water per week and you should see seedlings sprouting within a few days.
'Fairy Tale' Hybrid Eggplant
Eggplants love full sun and fertile soil with a pH from 6.3 o 6.8 but seeds will take much longer to cultivate than young plants at this stage of the season. Also known as aubergine, this vegetable requires lots of water so you may find it more convenient to grow them in containers where you can monitor the moisture level daily while providing support for the tall, angular plants that tend to fall over with their heavy-bearing fruit. Experiment with such colorful varieties as pinestripe, globe, apple green, Chinese or Indian eggplant.
Who doesn’t love home grown tomatoes? They are one of the easiest summer vegetables to grow. Tomato seeds usually yield the best results but require a growth cycle of more than 100 days depending on your climate zone. Instead, you can have terrific luck with young plants if you get them started in containers. Purchase plants with no flowers and acclimate them to the outdoors with partial sun and shade. Don’t overwater or let them wilt and they should be healthy enough to transplant to your garden within 10 days.