Summer Planting, Fall Harvesting

Growing Vegetables
Peas Harvesting

Harvesting vegetables in the fall is a great way to get additional supply of healthy, fresh vegetables straight from your garden. Do not think all harvesting should happen in late spring or summer. On the contrary: you can plant many vegetables in the summer for a great fall harvest.

There are some advantages to typical planting in April and May. While it's still useful to plant vegetables in the spring, consider doing some of the planting in the summer. You may choose new veggies to plant of you may plant another round of vegetables for a second harvest in the year. The choice is yours. All you need to know is how to do it properly.

Keep in mind that planting vegetables in the summer brings another advantage: it keeps your garden busy. If you grow plants during summer your garden is less likely to be overthrown by weeds and other problems.

Tips on Summer Planting

Here are some neat trips on second season sowing and succession planting:

  • Start in July. This is the best time to plant your vegetables if you live in climate zones 4 to 6. This is recommended because your plants will have enough time to grow and be harvested in the fall before the first frost.
  • To calculate the best time to plant and harvest in order to avoid frost, add two weeks to the date to maturity stated on the seed packet. This should account for the lower light and cooler temperatures in late summer and early fall, since this is when the plants grow slower.
  • Some vegetables, such as Swiss chard and kale thrive in cooler weather. These plants will actually benefit from a light frost.
  • Many plants growing in late summer and early fall will have larger leaves than those growing in the spring. This is because the light levels are lower so plants have to develop bigger leaves to capture enough light.


Here are some specific tips on when to plant vegetables:

  • Early July. Peas are good candidates for July and it will give you a nice fall harvest. To maximize the harvest, make sure to sow peas in July. This should give you a decent crop.
  • Mid July. This is a good time for broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and kohlrabi. Also, you may want to plant a new round of root crops during this time, such as radishes, carrots, parsnips and beets.
  • Mid to late July. This is a great time for basil, especially if basil you have planted in the spring is flowering and its taste getting a bit bitter. Some more aromatic varieties are great for growing during summer.
  • Throughout July. Bush beans can be sowed throughout the July, though they seem to prefer late July.
  • Mid July through August. Vegetables ideal to be planted during this time are cilantro, dill, spinach, leaf lettuce, parsley and arugula.

Protecting Plants

One important thing to keep in mind when you're aiming for a fall harvest is how to protect your plants in the case of sudden low temperatures. If this happens, it's advisable to cover your plants at night with blankets. There are affordable ones you can buy at garden centers or you can use some other type of protection.

Another way to go is to build cold frames and hoop houses over your raised beds. This is a good idea for those who like to practice succession planting regularly.

Photo credit: Nick Harris

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