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Savvy vegetable gardeners know that summer succession planting is the key to a non-stop harvest. This technique can be used in large vegetable gardens, small plots, and even on decks and patios where food is grown in containers. The premise is simple. As soon as one crop is finished, clean out old crops from the bed (or container), amend the soil, and plant fresh seeds or seedlings.
Unlike spring planting where cool temperatures and ample moisture help crops settle in quickly, summer weather can be a challenge for a succession planter. It’s hot and dry, and establishing seeds and seedlings can require a lot of TLC from the gardener. However, there are several ways to get around dry soil and soaring temperatures. Here are a few of our best tips to get you started in summer succession planting. Then, we’ll introduce you to some edibles you’ll want to add to your list to plant in July, while others can wait until August.
Successful summer succession planting:
- Plan ahead. Check your seed inventory and order new varieties or fresh seed packets before you need to plant.
- When you’re ready to seed or transplant, work in a 1/2 inch layer of compost.
- Avoid transplanting seedlings in the heat of the day. If possible wait for a cloudy or rainy day, or plant in late afternoon when the sun is less strong.
- If you’re in the middle of a heat wave, consider providing shade for newly seeded or transplanted crops with a mini hoop tunnel. Float a piece of row cover or shade cloth on the hoops to protect the bed from the hot sun.
- Keep newly seeded or transplanted crops consistently watered. Germination rates will plummet if seedbeds are allowed to dry out.
- Mulch! After you move seedlings (kale, cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, etc) into garden beds, water the soil well and mulch plants with straw or shredded leaves to hold soil moisture and reduce transplant stress.
No space in your garden for more vegetables? Consider succession planting edibles in containers as many crops take well to pots, planters, and window boxes. In fact, when the heat of July and August causes cool-weather vegetables, like spinach, arugula, and mustard, to bolt, planting in pots in semi-shade can yield a high-quality crop.
Now that you’re ready to get serious about summer succession planting, it’s time to talk about the fun part—what to grow!
5 vegetables to plant in July:
1) Z’Oro zucchini:
Z’Oro is a perfect summer squash for succession planting as it’s both quick and easy to grow, with fruits ready to harvest just 45 days from seeding. And those fruits! They’re a gorgeous deep yellow in color with a unique cylindrical shape. Plus, they’re produced in abundance. For the highest quality crop, harvest when the fruits are five to seven inches long.
2) Bulldog collard:
Craving savory collard greens? Try growing your own with Bulldog, a vigorous variety with quick growth and blue-green leaves. Unlike many varieties, Bulldog is bolt-resistant for summer growing, but also cold-tolerant for fall and winter harvesting. Direct seed in the garden or give the plants a head-start indoors under grow lights, moving them to the garden about 50 days before the first expected fall frost.
This summer to fall type of broccoli is ideal for summer succession planting, with the large, semi-domed heads ready to harvest about two months from transplanting. As with collards, the seeds can be direct-seeded or started indoors, and moved into the garden after three to four weeks. The harvest begins in early to mid-autumn and, with protection, can extend into winter.
4) Aspabroc F1 Baby Broccoli ‘Broccolini’:
This gourmet broccoli also thrives in the cool weather of spring or fall and can be seeded now for a fall crop. Unlike traditional broccoli, which forms a large, central head, Aspabroc is a broccolini-type that produces a generous harvest of small side-shoots, perfect for stir-fries, roasting, dipping, or steaming.
An All-America Selections winner, Mascotte is my favorite bush bean. Not only is it an early yielding variety, but it also grows well in garden beds and pots, has compact growth, and bears a ridiculously large harvest of super tender, stringless green beans. The pods are produced above the foliage, making for very easy picking.
* Bonus veggies: Cucumbers, carrots, beets, kohlrabi, cabbage, and peas.
5 vegetables to plant in August:
1) Imperial Green Spinach:
Imperial Green is a great choice for late-summer sowing as the plants are both heat-tolerant and bolt resistant. Plus, they’re resistant to common spinach diseases, like downey mildew. The deep green, arrow-shaped leaves are held upright on sturdy stems, making picking a snap. Use it raw in salads or cooked in stir-fries or pastas.
2) Deep Purple mustard:
Add excitement to your late-summer salads with Deep Purple mustard, a spicy Asian green that goes from seed to baby leaf in a mere 25 days. Sow seeds in pots or beds, or in cold frames in mid-autumn for winter harvesting.
3) Vulcan lettuce:
Almost too pretty to eat, Vulcan lettuce is an extremely ornamental and delicious bi-colored variety with puckered red and red leaves. It takes well to container growing and looks fantastic in garden beds. If any remains in the garden in late autumn, cover with a mini hoop tunnel to protect from frost.
4) Peppermint Swiss chard (pictured in main image):
Perhaps the most ornamental of all the chards, Peppermint is a veggie garden superstar that thrives in the spring, summer, and fall garden, and even longer with the protection of a cold frame or tunnel. It’s perfect for pots and gardens, and has electric pink- and white-striped stems topped with deep green, ruffly foliage. Gorgeous! Plant a fresh crop in mid-summer for loads of baby leaves in early autumn, letting some of the plants mature for a late-season harvest.
These are the ping pong ball-sized turnips that are in high demand at farmers markets for their tender roots and tasty leaves. Baby turnips are very quick to grow; just 30 days from seed to harvest, and they thrive in the late-summer, early-fall garden. Roast, stir fry, or sauté the creamy white roots, or eat them raw in salads and other dishes.
* Bonus veggies: turnips, radishes, arugula, kale, beets, and Asian greens.
Which veggies are part of your summer succession planting plan?