I had got an interesting email the other day. A new vegetable gardener said her peas, spinach, beets and lettuce were pretty much finished and the vegetable garden was looking bare. Was there anything she could still plant now, to fill in the holes?
It is sad when those first beautiful crops of spring suddenly bolt to flower. I try my best to forestall it, with lots of water and frequent picking, but eventually they will give out. Just as certainly, the later vegetables will start hogging more space. Things like sprawling squash plants and leafy tomatoes will commandeer as much space as allowed. But that doesn't mean you have to switch gears entirely. There are many vegetables that can be planted in succession, throughout the summer. And you can use the shade cast by these larger vegetables to keep them going.
At the beginning of the season, choose varieties that mature quickly and plant seed every 2-4 weeks. Good candidates include: beets, broccoli, cabbage, collards, lettuce, peas, radish, scallions and spinach.
As the weather warms up, you can continue with beets, cabbage, lettuce and scallions, but be sure to give them a little shade and a lot of water. You can also start staggering plantings of cucumbers and bush beans.
To keep harvesting into fall, replant cool weather lovers, in the cole family, in July/August. This can be a bit tricky, because some don't like to germinate, let alone grow in hot weather. It's easiest to start seedlings in a shady spot and transplant them into garden, once they're established. Toward late summer you can keep right on planting lettuce and bush beans and replant vegetables like broccoli and broccoli raab, cabbage, cauliflower and fast growing leafy greens like arugula, collards and spinach. Just remember to keep that water coming.
Of course, in hotter regions you'll be planting in earnest in the fall on through winter, not in the heat of summer. That may be more work than you expected, but just think of the rewards.
Photo: © Marie Iannotti