20 vegetables to plant midsummer for a fall harvest

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beets and radishes

We planted our garden the last weekend of May — the first weekend of my daughter’s summer vacation. Wedged into a sunny hillside with well-drained soil, we didn’t anticipate the water problems we’ve experienced. The beet and leaf lettuce seeds we planted washed away. We lost a majority of the tomato, cucumber and pepper seedlings we planted. Only the sunflowers seem to be thriving — oh, and the corn plants Vayda sowed into the front flower bed of our house.

2019 flower-bed corn plants
Vayda proudly poses in front of the seven corn plants she sowed into her mom’s front flower bed, showing they are “knee-high by the fourth of July.”

Fortunately, we’re going to get a second crack at this water-logged planting season. Whether you’ve got some extra space in your garden after harvesting early-maturing vegetables — salad greens, radishes, peas and spinach — or you’ve just had a tough year getting things to grow, midsummer planting can give you a second chance. Root crops, greens and other vegetables can successfully grow to maturity from July and August plantings.

First frost date

The key to a bountiful midsummer planting is knowing the average first frost date in your area. Not all late vegetables can survive frost. Knowing the first frost date and accounting for the required number growing days to reach maturity can help you work backward to determine a good planting date.

Cool-season vegetables, which includes kale and others in the cabbage family, may be one of the best choices for midsummer planting because of their flexibility in cooler weather. An early frost will not kill them before they are ready to eat and some cold-tolerant varieties actually have a better quality when grown in cool weather.

What should I plant?

Basil
Days to maturity: 30-60
Cold hardiness: Poor — killed by frost.

Beets
Days to maturity: 50-60
Cold hardiness: Good — survives into high 20s.

Bush beans
Days to maturity: 45-65
Cold hardiness: Poor — killed by frost.

Broccoli
Days to maturity: 50-70
Cold hardiness: Fair — survives light frost.

Brussels sprouts
Days to maturity: 90-100
Cold hardiness: Great — survives down to 20 F.

Cabbage
Days to maturity: 50-90
Cold hardiness: Great — survives down to 20 F.

Cauliflower
Days to maturity: 60-80
Cold hardiness: Fair — survives light frost.

Cilantro
Days to maturity: 60-70
Cold hardiness: Fair — survives light frost.

Collard greens
Days to maturity: 40-65
Cold hardiness: Great — survives down to 20 F.

Garlic
Days to maturity: Harvest the following July.
Cold hardiness: Overwinters in ground.

Green onion
Days to maturity: 60-70
Cold hardiness: Good — survives into high 20s.

Kale
Days to maturity: 40-65
Cold hardiness: Great — survives down to 20 F.

Kohlrabi
Days to maturity: 50-60
Cold hardiness: Fair — survives light frost.

Leaf lettuce
Days to maturity: 40-60
Cold hardiness: Fair — survives light frost.

Mustard greens
Days to maturity: 30-40
Cold hardiness: Fair — survives light frost.

Peas
Days to maturity: 70-80
Cold hardiness: Good — survives into high 20s.

Radishes
Days to maturity: 30-60
Cold hardiness: Excellent — dig up until soil freezes.

Spinach
Days to maturity: 35-45
Cold hardiness: Fair — survives light frost, but may overwinter.

Swiss chard
Days to maturity:  40-60
Cold hardiness: Fair — survives light frost.

Turnips
Days to maturity: 50-60
Cold hardiness: Fair — survives light frost.

If you’ll be planting your second round of crops for the summer, turn over the soil and mix in some balanced fertilizer to replace what your first crop used. Additionally, remove leftover debris like stems and roots from the first planting to avoid problems with seed germination. Your garden will be ready for a second planting within a week or two of prepping it.

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