Succession Planting – a great way to extend your season

It is that time in the season when temperatures begin to rise, produce starts ripening and parts of our garden have emptying spaces. The previous soil tenants of lettuce, kale and cabbage have been harvested; and soon we will be pulling the garlic we planted last fall and other onions that overwintered as well. We are just finishing collecting all that can be harvested from the spring peas. At the start of the season, I planted a variety of Sugar Ann, Oregon Sugar Pod II and Mammoth Melting Snow Peas. We’ve enjoyed snacking on these yummy treats for a couple months now and I just gave a quart sized bag filled to the brim to the kids who will enjoy snacking on them during their camping trip this week.

As I look out upon the garden from my desk, the garden looks quiet right now. The rain a few minutes ago made all the birds head for cover. We’ve had more than a few birds feed on the kale and cabbage that I let go to seed. There are also a few heads of lettuce that I let go to seed as well. I decided to let some stuff go to seed for two reasons: curiosity and laziness. I’ll address the latter reason first. At the time the kale and cabbage started to go to seed we were very busy installing and planting our clients’ gardens. I was too tired and basically lazy to pull it out when it started to bolt. Curiosity got the better of me once I had watched a video about collecting seed from kale plants and thought it I should try it. Collecting seeds from produce that you grew can be incredibly satisfying however depending upon the variety will determine how easy or difficult it can be. Collecting seeds from tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant tends to be easier than collecting from green leafy vegetables. It is a little bit more involved and a topic for another blog.

julyIt’s hard to believe that it could be July 15th already; but there is still plenty of time to be able to seed quick growing crops in most zones. I don’t think many people realize that there is even plenty of time to sow seeds for certain vegetables that will give you a late-summer or an early autumn harvest. Here in Zone 6 by mid-July you can transplant your June started seedlings or starts bought from a local nursery for brassicas like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. However, if you were going to direct seed right into the garden bed there’s plenty more options available. Certain varieties work better than others when seeding this time of year. Varieties of spinach like Avon, Tyee and Indian Summer are all quick growers that are vigorous, high-yielding and have superb flavor all four seasons of the year. When looking for varieties, I look for quick growers that take under 50 days. As of today with 15 weeks left until November 1, that’s 105 days – it’s important to remember when you are seeding directly into your garden bed to add two weeks to the time to allow for germination and slower growth in fall.

After seeding it may be a good idea use a row cover to protect the freshly seeded area from the hot summer sun and wind.

Seeed carrots
Newly seeded carrots that germinated

Here in Zone 6, I still have time in from now until the end of the month to sow bush beans, carrots, radishes, beets, kohlrabi, turnips, kale, peas as well nasturtiums to add more color to the garden since they only take a quick 10 days to germinate.

 One of the most important and sometime overlooked thing to remember when sowing seeds during the mid-summer is always add compost to the area that you’re about to sow your seeds. By adding compost you are replenishing the nutrients that were depleted from the crop that you previously harvested. Food gets their nutrients from the soil and it’s very important to understand that once the crop is been harvested that compost needs to be introduced back to the soil to replenish the depleted nutrients.

The more food we grow, the more flavors we are exposed to, and the more vitamins and minerals are actually in our food.  Win-win-win!

“Pulling weeds and pickin’ stones
Man is made from dreams and bones.
Feel the need to grow my own
‘Cause the time is close at hand.
Grain for grain, sun and rain
Find my way in nature’s chain.
To my body and my brain
To the music from the land.”

– The Garden Song written by David Mallett


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