Plan & Purchase:
Shocking, isn’t it, that it’s time to plan the fall and overwintering garden? Gets me every year. If you are into the year-round harvest thing, now is when you get your gameplan together for things as far away as next May’s cauliflower. Territorial Seed has a dedicated fall/winter catalog that will come out in paper in a month or so, but that’s too late for people like me so I research my seed needs online here.
Mid-to-late June is when I start the first wave of fall and winter crops. Brussels sprouts take forever to grow, so if you want them for Thanksgiving (and I always do) you’ve got to start them now. Fall and winter cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli and kohlrabi (the big winter-keeper types) can be started from mid-month onward through mid-July.
At this time of year, if you have a greenhouse or sunny porch, you can start the fall crops outside, either in a nursery bed or in little pots. They will dry out quickly, though, so be diligent about watering. You can also turn the seed lights back on and start them indoors. Be aware of what varieties you are planting. Spring brassicas aren’t bred to hold up in winter weather, so seek out varieties that will work for when you plan to harvest them.
Sow & Plant Outside:
- Beans – my first planting of beans are 5-feet up the trellis, and even the latest in-ground planting in a kinda-shady area is up and growing. If you didn’t plant beans last month, go for it now.
- Summer & Winter Squash – Like beans, my first-planted squashes are rather huge for this time of year. Both summer and winter squash seeds can go in anytime.
- Melons – Plant a short season variety.
- Cucumbers – Sow directly and try trellising! Cucumbers are easy to grow vertically and you get more in an area and get much straighter cukes that way. I’ve got a bunch of both fresh and pickling cukes growing in cellpacks and need to get them transplanted.
- Brassicas – Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, collards and kale and Asian greens like pac choi and Chinese cabbage, etc. can all be direct sown now but at this time of year you must think about days to maturity. Super fast maturing brassicas (many of the Asians) that would come mature in the heat of August aren’t necessarily the best idea because these crops favor cool weather. With those, waiting a couple of weeks or a month so that maturation happens in cooler September is a good idea. On the other hand, long-maturing brussels sprouts started this month will give you sprouts for Thanksgiving, whereas waiting a month may mean missing that window.
- Root Vegetables – You will have the best results in loose open soil and I encourage you to cover your carrot and parsnip seedlings with row cover to prevent the carrot root maggot from destroying your veggies as they do mine with some embarrassing frequency. This year I am harvesting perfect, un-maggotty-carrots from an overwintered sowing of Mokums I tossed into the ground in October as companion to garlic. This timing avoided the hatching out of the carrot root fly. The longer I do this the more I think overwintered seeding may be a huge effort-saver and natural season extension technique. All it takes is patience. A last crop of potatoes can also be put in at the beginning of this month if you sow short-season varieties like Yukon Gold. Mid-to-late June your main sowing of carrots can go in, along with parsnips (last chance on these), beets, rutabaga and turnips. If you are plum out of room in the garden, these crops can be sown through July but yield and harvest size will be smaller.
- Corn – This is my first year growing corn, so I’m no expert. Apparently corn should be “Knee-high by the 4th of July.” Right now, at the beginning of June, my corn is about calf-high. The books tell me you can put corn in now and it should grow fast for you and be harvestable in September/October. I’d still hedge bets with a short-season adapted variety and I wouldn’t delay getting it planted.
- Salad Greens – lettuce, (every month a new sowing!) warm-weather New Zealand spinach, mustards, arugula, etc . can all be sown. Plan on harvesting arugula and mustards as baby greens. They will bolt rapidly in warm weather. Rapidly.
- Swiss Chard – There’s still time to plant Swiss chard for bountiful late summer and fall harvest. I’m letting last year’s chard go to seed and do it’s own thing on the assumption that the chard knows when it should seed itself. We’ll see what happens.
- Onions – green onions and overwintering leeks can be sown. Chives and garlic chives can be started in a nursery bed for a harvest next year.
- Herbs: Chives, parsley, mints, marjoram, oregano, dill, fennel, borage and the like can all be sown out. Cilantro, fennel, dill, and of course basil can all be grown. Plant lots of basil if you haven’t already! Everyone loves pesto.
All your warm weather transplants: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc. should be fine going out now. We’re still dipping into high-40s nights and are running slightly below average for daily high/lows but compared to last years craptastic late spring it’s downright balmy.
Be sensitive to where and how your transplant out. Harden your transplants gently if they are coming from a nice cozy greenhouse and be particularly gentle with eggplant and peppers, giving them a warm microclimate in which to snuggle, heat sinks (like wall-o-waters or big rocks) and extra attention, particularly if night time temps dip.
How is the gardening season going where you live?