Enjoying Summer, Planning for Fall

by Doug Muller

Piracicaba BroccoliJuly means hot days, sultry nights, swimming, barbecues, and the start of heavy garden harvests. We hope you're enjoying these moments and finding pleasure in your garden this year.

But the arrival of July also means it's time to start sowing for fall's delicious cold-hardy crops.

Here are my favorite five fall crops that are best sown in July here in upstate New York. Live somewhere a little warmer? Try sowing these crops into August. Somewhere colder? Sow them now rather than waiting a week or two.

  1. Carrots: While you can sow carrots into early August, carrots sown in late June to early July tend to be in perfect shape for fall eating: big, juicy, crunchy roots with plenty of flavor and no toughness (often carrots that are sown in the spring become tough and woody by fall). Danvers and Dragon Carrot Art Pack are both great broad-topped, tapering, richly colored varieties. Scarlet Nantes is more cylindrical, with a narrower core and exceptional fresh eating qualities. Our Kaleidoscope Carrots Art Pack provides a mix of colors and shapes.
  2. Parsnips: Sowing parsnips in July means medium-sized, high-quality roots for winter eating. While parsnip roots sown earlier will get larger by fall, seeds sown now produce carrot-sized roots with better eating quality than the monstrous roots that often result from spring sowings. Harris Model is a great variety. The only caveat: parsnip seed is a finicky germinator, so if you sow it now, you do need to keep it steadily moist for swift germination--otherwise you may run out of time to get good roots. (Did you know that you can leave parsnips in the ground with no protection for the winter and harvest them anytime the ground isn't frozen? Ease-o-Peas-o.)
  3. Kale and Collards: These exceptionally nutritious greens have become a staple in most conscious households. Sown in July, Kale and Collards and other leafy brassicas will become big, healthy, unstressed crops in fall. Spring-sown crops are great in fall, too, but if stressed by drought, pests, or disease during the summer months, they can be stymied. Best to sow some now for best eating quality straight through the December holiday season. We carry Champion Collards as well as Dino KaleRed Russian Kale, Siberian Kale, and Vates Blue Curled Kale.  
  4. Scallions: With careful planning, your garden can easily provide delicious bunching onions the entire year. Our Evergreen Hardy Scallion (also available as an Art Pack) is a true scallion--in the Allium fistulosum species. This means that they survive the winter easily and regrow with vigor in the very early spring for fresh eating in March and April. Seeds sown in late winter and spring are harvestable from May through summertime; seeds sown now will be good eating from September through the New Year and then again after they return in March or April.
  5. Broccoli: If you've never experienced the pleasure of fall broccoli, you simply must try it. Spring broccoli, though delicious, can't touch it. Most home gardeners prefer cut-and-come-again varieties such as Piracicaba (also available in an Art Pack) and Green Sprouting Calabrese. The florets on these varieties emerge profusely in the summertime, and in order to make the harvest last, gardeners must pluck every floret from every plant every two days or so. In the fall, the florets come slow-but-steady, meaning that you can harvest them for a very long period without having to worry about missed harvests resulting in flowering plants (the eating quality of flowering broccoli declines rapidly). Best of all, fall broccoli is exceptionally sweet and usually can be harvested well into December.

Want more ideas? The chart below shows when gardeners in the Hudson Valley should sow seeds for harvests straight through the winter solstice. (Gardeners in the greater NYC metro area can have success starting seeds 1-2 weeks after the dates indicated here.) Have a cold frame, plastic tunnel, or greenhouse? Experiment with starting seeds up to 2-3 weeks later than indicated for extended harvests into winter under protection.

Week beginning Sowing possibilities
June 14th Beans, Beets, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Collards, Cucumbers, Fast-Growing Cabbages (such as Early Jersey Wakefield or Red Express), Fennel, Kale, Lettuce, Parsnips, Scallions, Summer Squash, Swiss Chard, Tatsoi, Winter Squash
June 21st Beans, Beets, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Collards, Cucumbers, Fast-Growing Cabbages (such as Early Jersey Wakefield or Red Express), Fennel, Kale, Lettuce, Parsnips, Scallions, Summer Squash, Swiss Chard, Tatsoi, Winter Squash
June 28th Beans, Beets, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Collards, Cucumbers, Fast-Growing Cabbages (such as Early Jersey Wakefield or Red Express), Fennel, Kale, Lettuce, Parsnips, Scallions, Summer Squash, Swiss Chard, Tatsoi, Winter Squash
July 7th Beans, Beets, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Collards, Cucumbers, Fast-Growing Cabbages (such as Early Jersey Wakefield or Red Express), Fennel, Kale, Lettuce, Parsnips, Peas, Rutabaga, Scallions, Summer Squash, Swiss Chard, Tatsoi
July 14th Beans, Beets, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Chinese Cabbage, Collards, Cucumbers, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Parsnips, Peas, Rutabaga, Scallions, Summer Squash, Swiss Chard, Tatsoi
July 21st Arugula, Beans, Beets, Bok Choy, Carrots, Chinese Cabbage, Collards, Cucumbers, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Mibuna/Mizuna, Rutabaga, Scallions, Summer Squash, Swiss Chard, Tatsoi
July 28th Arugula, Beets, Bok Choy, Carrots, Chinese Cabbage, Lettuce, Mibuna/Mizuna, Kale, Kohlrabi, Swiss Chard, Tatsoi
August 7th Arugula, Beets, Bok Choy, Carrots, Chinese Cabbage, Komatsuna, Lettuce, Mibuna/Mizuna, Mustard Greens, Swiss Chard, Tatsoi, Turnips
August 14th Arugula, Bok Choy, Komatsuna, Lettuce, Mibuna/Mizuna, Mustard Greens, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Tatsoi, Turnips
August 21st Arugula, Bok Choy, Komatsuna, Lettuce, Mibuna/Mizuna, Mustard Greens, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Tatsoi, Turnips
August 28th Arugula, Bok Choy, Komatsuna, Lettuce, Mache, Mibuna/Mizuna, Mustard Greens, Spinach, Tatsoi,  Turnips
September 7th Arugula, Komatsuna, Lettuce, Mache, Mibuna/Mizuna, Mustard Greens, Radishes, Spinach
September 14th Arugula, Komatsuna, Lettuce, Mache, Radishes, Spinach
September 21st until the ground freezest Continue planting seeds of cold-hardy varieties such as Lettuce, Mache, and Spinach to give plants a head-start on spring. They will overwinter and reward your foresight with delicious early spring salads. Plant cold-hardy brassicas such as Bok Choy or Komatsuna for harvest as baby greens (don't try too hard to overwinter these late plantings—they will bolt before growing much at all in the spring).

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