Celebrate the Summer Garden

When cultivated with regional conditions in mind, you'll be more likely to reap a bounty from your summer garden.


| June/July 2006



summer garden - flowers and hummingbird illustration

A hummingbird feeds on the nectar of hyacinth bean flowers. This striking annual vine produces unique shiny, purple seedpods. Its leaves, seeds, pods and roots are edible (although the seeds and pods must be cooked properly).


Illustration by Judith Ann Griffith/Seed Savers Exchange

All around the country, the plants are in the ground and gardeners are coaxing them to thrive.  However, regional climate has a large impact on the success or failure of those efforts. Wherever you’re located, our experts have some good advice on how to get the most from your summer garden.

Maritime Canada and New England

June brings warm sun on our backs, the scent of lilacs and a scramble to get summer crops in the ground. We feast on spinach and asparagus and mound hills for squash plants. Pepper, melon and cucumber seedlings can be transplanted into warm soil — if cucumber beetles are an annual problem, protect melon and cucumber seedlings with row covers. Plant beans and corn, and sow additional lettuce and cilantro. Peas are ready for climbing support and carrots need thinning.

Onions start to form bulbs in late June or early July — a good time to top-dress them with compost, organic fertilizer, or fish or blood meal. July promises a full bounty by month’s end, starting with the first peas, strawberries and tender, buttery broccoli. Sour cherries and raspberries lead up to the crowning moment of summer: the first tomatoes. Late July is time for planting spinach, brassicas, raab and other greens to ensure a fall harvest.

— Roberta Bailey, FEDCO Seeds, Waterville, Maine

Mid-Atlantic

In early June, prepare seed potatoes for a late season crop by letting them sprout in sunlight for two weeks before planting. This process, called “green chitting,” will speed growth and increase yields. If Mexican bean beetles have been a problem, consider ordering Pedio wasps (Pediobius foveolatus) and applying these tiny parasitic biocontrols when you first spot beetle larvae.

Mulch warm season crops now, and mow buckwheat cover crops before they set seeds. Sow peanuts, transplant Brussels sprouts, and plant more brassicas and Asian greens under row covers. Add a shade cloth over the row cover if the temperature is very high. ‘Nutribud’ broccoli is especially nutritious and will produce well in both spring and fall. Two weeks after the tops start to die down, bring in early potatoes, and order seeds for winter cover crops. Plan now to enter some produce in your local county fair this summer.





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