SECOND SEASON GARDENING by Kathy Cranage
Mid to late summer is the time to plant seeds for a second gardening season that can be as productive as the early spring plantings. Late summer or early fall is the time to plant hardy lettuces such as batavia, replant cool season aromatic herbs such as dill, parsley, cilantro or chives if yours have given up the ghost as mine have under the heat of late summer. Sturdy greens such as chard, kale, pac choi, spinach, mustard and all those other tasty Oriental greens along with root crops such as carrots, beets, green onions, radishes along with bulbing fennel also do better here as a second season crop. This is the time for a second crop of the brassica family.
This is also a great time to plant more perennial or annual flower seeds. Candidates might include Alyssum, Pansies, Cornflowers, Nigella, Poppies, Larkspur and Sweet Peas.
It may seem counter intuitive to start a new crop of seeds when much of your summer produce is still pumping out, but it's well worth the effort. For reliable harvests in cooler weather, seedlings must have good initial growth and well- established root systems. The objective is to have fully grown plants that basically store themselves in the garden through the fall months to be harvested as needed.
Late summer planted crops have less competition from weeds and pests and grow better under the waning heat. If we have a mild or late onset of winter we’ll also get a bountiful harvests just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. Many crops will hold well through the early winter months without bolting or becoming bitter tasting.
The difference when starting seeds at this time of year is that your seeds must be germinated and established out of the hot sun but still get plenty of light. If daytime temperatures are still in the high 80's, shelter newly transplanted seedlings with row covers or some kind of shade for a few days so they can adjust to the heat and sun.