In many places around the world July’s summer weather can be pretty rough. If you have 10+ days with temperatures over 100F – whew! – that certainly is not the best planting weather! But if you live in USDA zones 4 ,5 ,6 and 7 there are still some veggies you can plant at this time of year.
The first thing to do is look around your garden, and see if there are some empty batches for planting. A spot where some plants didn’t make it last year, or where you have cleared out some veggies already, can just perfect for your new crops this year! You can still take advantage of all the warm weather blowing in July by filling those spots with new plantings!
For instance, we always have a big empty lot where our peas were planted. Peas are done here by July 1st and are ready to come out. A lot of this space will just sit empty for 30 days waiting for the first of the fall carrot and spinach plantings in the month of August. Also, the spring lettuce beds are empty, so bush beans can be planted there right away.
So, what plants can you seed in July, and still be expecting to get a harvest?
Did you know that a second planting of cucumbers at July’s time of the year will yield a small early-fall crop? Yes, it is never a bad idea to plant some more cucumbers for the preserving season.
And doesn’t it look like that cucumber plants kind of ‘always burn themselves out?’ My plants always seem to start fading at late August time. So, this year I will try an early-July planting of cucumbers. Those fresh green plants will start producing in early September, and will aid to build my fall harvest! So, you can do it this way too, and grow them on a trellis for even a better harvest.
- Onions and leeks
If you still find them at the local nursery, you can still get onion sets in your planting ground. As they WON’T bulb up, you will only get green onions.
You can plant them 3 inches deep, and close enough to save some space. These can last deep into the fall and help enrich your meals with fresh green onions! So, midsummer is a great time to get started on a fall planting of onions and leeks.
If you live in a mild-winter zone, then you may be able to get a harvest by planting seeds directly in the garden. In turn, in the areas where the winter season starts early, you may need to get a hold of some seedlings to plant, or try planting some of your own indoors, and then transplant them out in 6 weeks.
- Summer squash
If you plant zucchini, crook neck, or patty pan squash in early to mid-July they should still produce some fruit by the end of the season. Surely, the harvest you should expect will be smaller than you would have if the plants went in during the month of May. But don’t worry – you can still rejoice in a good harvest from mid-September until the frost freezes your plants in the cold month of October.
In fact, if you struggle with powdery mildew in your garden, a July planting of any of these summer squashes may be just the thing your harvest basket ‘dreams about.’ When your spring-planted squashes start to surrender to the powdery mildew, your brand new July plants will just be kicking in. Wooly aphids (Eriosomatinae) and other sucking insects are often vectors of transmission for powdery mildew, and other infectious diseases.
Typically, wooly aphids in sub temperate climates precede and are an indicator of various infections, including powdery mildew. Aphids penetrate plant surfaces where they often reside and provide a host of potential inoculants through physical, digestive or fecal secretions. Aphids are often an indicator of other potential plant problems.
Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that affects a wide range of plants. Powdery mildew diseases are caused by many different species of fungi in the order Erysiphales, with Podosphaera xanthii (a.k.a. Sphaerotheca fuliginea) being the most commonly reported cause. Powdery mildew fungi reproduce both sexually and asexually. Milk has long been popular with home gardeners and small-scale organic growers as a treatment for powdery mildew.
How to beat powdery mildew:
Milk is diluted with water (typically 1:10) and sprayed on susceptible plants at the first sign of infection, or as a preventative measure, with repeated weekly application often controlling or eliminating the disease. Studies have shown milk’s effectiveness as comparable to some conventional fungicides. The exact mechanism of action is unknown, but one known effect is that ferroglobulin, a protein in whey, produces oxygen radicals when exposed to sunlight, and contact with these radicals is damaging to the fungus.
The curly kale, when planted in warm July, from either starts or seeds, will yield a great fall [and even winter crop]. You will need to wait to harvest this planting of kale until the fall really settles in, and you have had 2 or 3 frosty nights. The frost will also help sweeten the kale and improve its taste. But if you want ‘fall kale,’ you need to get it planted right now, without any delay!
- Summer crisp lettuces
Summer varieties of lettuce will do great both in July and August, and seeds can be planted directly in the garden. Just be sure to keep the seeds moist until they germinate and get established. Most summer lettuce varieties resist bolting, and tip burn. I am fond of doing this as it gives me a very early crop of lettuce so that I can have fresh garden salads, garnished with fresh and sweet tomatoes of course.
- Fall peas
Don’t forget to plant some fall peas as well, either snow peas or shelling peas. These need to go in around the middle of July, and will be ready in mid-October. I have seen that snow peas do particularly well in the fall.
So, if you get your peas planted in mid-July, you can have a decent harvest in late fall. Just keep in mind that in areas where you have very hot summers and short falls, peas do not do as well in the fall as they would otherwise in the spring. Expect ½ of the harvest in fall as you would get from the same number of plants in spring.
- Green beans
You should be aware that green beans have a surprisingly short growing time. This is particularly true of the bush varieties of green beans. Many varieties of bush beans have a maturity date of only 60-70 days. That means a planting early in July will be ready to go no later than mid-September, and if you have a late first frost date, even a planting at the end of July will still give you a harvest galore.
Idea plus for summer goodies:
Speaking of July planting, it’s not too early to be thinking about fall crops either. A mid-July planting of broccoli (especially sprouting broccoli) will do well. You could also get an early ‘jump’ on your fall plantings of turnips, beets, or even baby carrots.
However, the important thing to remember about any planting in July, is that the weather (think heat) is very turbulent on newly-sprouted seedlings. You will need to give extra attention to anything you have planted in July, and take care to water them often. For the first few growing weeks, maybe even daily watering will be needed.
So, if you have some empty beds in your garden, or if you had one of those springs and didn’t get anything embedded, don’t be nervy – it’s still not too late to get some seeds in that ground of yours!
At least now you know what can you plant in July and still get a harvest!