It's Not Too Late To Plant These Veggies In August

Late to the game this year? These end-of-summer edibles delight in hot days and muggy nights and grow quickly enough to produce a harvest in two months or less.

August 11, 2017
harvesting carrots
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When the heat brings an end to the harvest of lettuce, peas, and many other cool-weather crops, it’s time to compost the sun-scorched remains of those spring edibles to open up garden space for the next round of vegetables.

Before selecting your crops, calculate the number of growing days left for your garden, so your harvest won’t be cut short by frost. (Your county’s cooperative extension service can tell you when to expect the first killing frost in fall.) Then use the “days to maturity” numbers on seed packets to help choose varieties that will mature within the remaining growing season. The veggies that follow are all suited to mid- to late-summer sowing directly into the garden. All germinate quickly in warm, moist soil and thrive in summertime heat.

(Whether you're starting your first garden or switching to organic, Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening has all the answers and advice you need—get your copy today!)

eight ball zucchini
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Summer Squash

Summer squashes—a group that includes zucchinis, yellow crookneck squash, and those cute scalloped pattypan squashes—are the ultimate summer-sprinter crop. Few plants can compete with them for vigor, rate of growth, or sheer quantity of production. If your spring-sown squashes peter out or succumb to pests or disease, start a second round in summer. Many summer squashes begin to produce in less than 60 days, and some are true speed demons, such as Golden Egg (41 days), Limelight zucchini (50 days), or Ronde de Nice (45 days).

Related: 7 Recipes That Reinvent The Way You Eat Zucchini

green beans
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Bush Beans

Few crops are better than bush beans for filling in midsummer gaps in the vegetable garden. Most varieties grow quickly, thrive in heat, and tolerate variable amounts of water. For best results, stick with fast-maturing snap bean varieties, such as Provider (50 days), Royal Burgundy (55 days), or Blue Lake Bush (52 days). Gardeners in warmer zones may still have time to plant and harvest slower-growing pole beans or shelling beans.

Related: How To Grow Pole Beans In A Pot

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cucumbers
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Cucumbers

It takes surprisingly little time to grow a crisp, crunchy cucumber. This vining vegetable grows best and fastest when treated to a nice dose of summer heat; many varieties shoot from seed to first harvest in less than two months. Varieties worth trying include Straight Eight (58 days), Sweeter Yet (50 days), and Northern Pickling (48 days).

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harvesting carrots
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Root Crops

Carrots, turnips, and beets are sweeter when the roots are harvested in cool weather, but they don’t mind heat while they grow. Time your summer seeding so the crops are ready to harvest a few weeks before first frost—and plant an extra row of carrots for winter storage. As soon as the seedlings appear, surround them with straw mulch to keep the soil cool and moist. Try early varieties of carrots, such as Mokum or Nelson (56 days); Red Ace beets (50 days); and crisp, white Hakurei turnips (38 days).

Related: How Crop Rotation Can Help You Manage Pests And Improve Soil Quality

rainbow chard
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Hot-Weather Greens

Summer’s heat makes impossible most of the delicate spring greens, but there are other options. For a bit of leafy green in the late-summer garden, consider chard (approximately 50-60 days, less for baby greens), kale (approximately 50-60 days, less for baby greens), or New Zealand spinach (50 days).