While we just marked the Summer Solstice, it’s been scorching hot and extremely humid for weeks now in East TN. Summer temps are usually with us by mid-May, so we are well into our summer growing season. This means that many of the plants that you put in back in early May could be reaching the end of their productive life expectancy. They are starting to succumb to disease, especially with this recent bought of daily thunderstorms and high humidity, creating the perfect conditions for fungal pathogens to grow. If you’d like to keep eating summer favorites like beans and squash, your best bet isn’t to try saving old plants, but to simply sow a new round of seeds. These plants will weather the heat and humidity much better than the older ones. Don’t wait until plants are completely dead before sowing, either. You can sow new seed every 3-4 weeks, so that when the old ones are dying, the new ones will just be beginning to produce.
Here’s what you can direct sow in the garden right now:
- Put in your second or third plantings of beans, beets, corn, cowpeas, cucumber, edamame, melons, okra, pumpkin, radish, summer squash, and winter squash.
- Herbs like dill and cilantro can be reseeded as needed.
Despite the heat, it’s now time to start sowing seeds in flats for your fall garden. If you wait until temps cool down to sow your fall seeds, it can be too late. Many fall crops need 2-3 months to mature, so you have to time their planting so they reach maturing by the fall first frost date, approximately Oct 30th. By starting the seeds in flats, you can maximize space in your garden. Seeds planted now will be ready to go in around mid-August, the time when many summer crops start to die back. Be sure to carefully select varieties for fall and winter gardening. They need to be both heat and cold tolerant, and a good seed catalog will be sure to specify these characteristics in their descriptions.
Here’s what you can start now for fall growing:
- Root crops like beets, carrots and parsnips
- Brassicas like broccoli (heading and sprouting varieties), brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, and kohlrabi
- Last week to plant alliums like leeks
- Herbs like fennel and parsley
- Try heat tolerant varieties of lettuce.
Happy gardening and good luck with sowing successions and fall plants!