Secrets of Summer Planting in June and July

garden harvest in a basket

Once in awhile I see a post from a gardener on social media in which they share how they’ve “finished” planting their vegetable garden. This is often in late May or early June.
 
Many gardeners approach planting this way. They plant their whole gardens within the span of a week or two and that’s it for the season. Late spring planting is their only focus, not summer or fall planting.
 
In my garden in zone 5 (WI), I start planting in my cold frames in March and into the uncovered garden in April and don’t stop planting seeds and seedlings until September. The only time I’m “finished” is when I temporarily run out of room, or it gets too late into the season to plant.
 
This method of repeated planting means I’ll get more food from my garden in a very steady supply throughout the season. In fact, even in the frigid North where I live I harvest from my garden 10 months of the year.
 
One of the techniques I use to grow more food is succession planting.  Succession planting means planting the same vegetable several times throughout the season for a continued harvest.
 
Why would you want to use succession planting?  Two reasons.
 
Spread out the harvest. 
You’ve probably had the experience of planting a big row of beets or an entire bed of bush beans and they’re all ready to harvest at the same time. Which means you have to deal with all of those vegetables – either using them or giving them away to friends and family – or take the risk of them rotting in your fridge. Succession planting is a great way to spread out that harvest so you have more manageable amounts to eat and cook with.
 
Maximize space.
Your garden space and do double (or even triple!) duty by growing more than one vegetable in the same amount of space in the same season. This isn’t doable with every vegetable, but there are lots that pair well together because they don’t take all season to grow.
 
I find it easiest to break up my succession planting into spring, summer and fall plantings. In this article we’re going to cover what to plant in June and July. At the end I’ll share some resources to help you extend your succession planting into the spring and fall as well.
 
A note about zone: This summer planting advice is most applicable to gardeners in colder areas, US zones 3-7. If you live in a very hot climate your summer planting calendar will likely be much different.
 

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How to Find Space for Summer Planting

Spring planting comes naturally to most gardeners. But, as soon as the season heads into summer a lot of people put away their seeds and plants for good. It doesn’t have to be this way! You can keep planting throughout the summer if you have the space in your garden.
 
But how do you carve out room to plant?
 
Replace spring vegetables!
 
Hopefully you got out into your garden in early spring and planted your frost tolerant vegetables. As your garden heads into summer most of your these vegetables like spinach, cilantro and radishes will be at the end of their lives.
 
They’ll either be bolting and being removed to the compost bin or you’ll be harvesting the entire planting before it starts bolting.
 
This can be frustrating to some gardeners, watching something they planted come to the end of its lifecycle just when summer gets going, but these vegetables are not designed to grow in the summer.  They don’t like too much sunlight and they hate the dog days of summer.
 
The bonus is that you end up with some new space in the garden where you can plant a second vegetable that’s more ideally suited for summer planting.
 
Here’s a list of some of the spring planted vegetables that will most likely be coming out of the garden sometime in June, if not before, and are ripe to be replaced.
 
Arugula
Bok Choy
Cilantro
Lettuce
Radishes
Salad Mix
Spinach
Turnips
 
In a bit we’ll talk about which vegetables are great options for replanting in their vacated space.
 
No empty spaces!
 
At the beginning of summer there are still many growing weeks left to the season, which means you should not let any space go to waste in your garden. In general, as soon as a vegetable isn’t worth being harvested anymore I take it out of my garden.
 
I chop down the entire spinach and lettuce row when I see the plants wanting to bolt, and I get all of the radishes out of the ground before they start to turn woody and bitter. Broccoli plants get chopped down too, right after I harvest that beautiful green crown.
 
Once that space is freed up, I immediately turn around and plant a new vegetable in that garden bed. At this time of year I don’t tolerate too many empty spaces. There’s just too much food that can be grown!
woman harvesting beets in garden

Best Vegetables for Summer Planting in June and July

Now that you’re primed with some empty space in your garden, the next question is what should you be planting?
 
Here’s a list of recommended vegetables that will do well with an early summer planting. I find it easiest to plant vegetables that can be direct seeded unless I’ve been able to find some seedlings for sale this late in the season.
 
Basil – seedling
Beans (bush) – seeds, easily germinates in hot weather
Beets – seeds, reliable germinators if you keep them moist
Carrots – seeds, can be difficult to germinate in dry weather. Read some tips on how to grow carrots here.
Chard – seeds or plants
Cilantro – seeds, in a partly shady bed is best
Cucumbers – seeds or plants under a trellis, easy to germinate
Dill – seeds
Kale – seeds or plants
Summer Squash – seeds or plants, easy to germinate
Scallions – seeds or plants
 
Personally, my two favorite vegetables to plant in the summer are carrots and beets. When it doubt I plant one or both. There’s never too many of them IMHO.
planting in the summer garden

Tips for Planting Summer Vegetables

Summer planting in June and July can be a little more tricky than planting in spring when the soil is moist and the weather is cool – conditions that are optimal for seed germination.
 
Here are some tricks you can keep up your sleeve to make summer planting easier and more successful.
 
Add Organic Fertilizer
To keep your plants supplied with the nutrients they need to grow strong and produce robust harvests, I recommend adding an organic fertilizer to your soil every time you plant. I have an extensive article in which I share what to look for in an organic fertilizer and some brands that meet the criteria.
 
Plant Before Rain
When I worked on an organic farm many years ago I learned a tip from the farmer that I’ve used ever since – if there’s rain in the forecast, try to plant right before or after. Seeds need consistent moisture for germination, so a nice cloudy day with ample rain is a great way to set them up for easy germination.
 
Water Consistently
Newly planted seeds need to remain moist in order to germinate quickly. This is more difficult to achieve in the hot and dry conditions that accompany summer planting.  You need to water at least two times a day – in the morning and evening. I work at home, so sometimes I even go out and water at lunchtime.
 
Once seeds geminate you can back off from watering every day. I generally give my plants about 1 inch of water per week. Find plenty of tips here for watering your vegetable garden.
 
Newly planted seedlings won’t have an established root system and are more likely to suffer from shock in the summer when it’s hot, dry and windy. Help them get through the first week or two by giving them some water each evening to encourage rapid root growth so they can toughen up and not be impacted by summer weather.
salad mix growing under shade cloth
Provide Shade
In my front garden I have two beds that get a bit of shade in the late afternoon. This is where I often focus my summer plantings. A bit of shade can do wonders in helping keep the soil more moist for seed germination and give newly planted seedlings a break from the mid-day sun.
 
You can also create your own shade by draping some shade cloth over some hoops or other structure to hold it over the plants.
 
Mulch
I talk about the many benefits of vegetable garden mulch and I can’t imagine having a garden without it. Mulched soil stays much cooler and more moist than soil exposed to the sun.
 
Right after planting seedlings you should make sure to spread a thick layer of mulch around them. After summer planted seeds germinate I also mulch between all of the rows to keep weeds down and the plants happy.

Examples of Summer Plantings From My Garden

To bring it all together and inspire you to try summer planting in June and July in your own garden, I want to share some specific instances when I practiced summer succession planting.
summer succession planting
This photo is actually from a bit earlier in the season, May 19. My cold frame was on this bed so it contains all of my very early spring vegetables. When a row of spinach from the previous season bolted, I yanked out the plants, and then planted a row of beets in that spot.
example of vegetables you can plant in july
By June 10 the above photo shows the space where I harvested the last of the spring radishes and planted a few rows of carrots. You can also see the cilantro bolting. Sometimes I leave it to flower and attract beneficial insects before pulling and replanting that space.
planting vegetables in june
On June 15 in this garden bed I removed two rows of spinach from the right hand side of the bed and replaced them with two rows of bush beans. They should start maturing after the two rows on the left, providing me with a longer harvest.
planting carrots in summer
In mid July I usually harvest my 220 garlic plants and hang them to cure in my garage. I immediately turn around and plant some of those garden beds with carrots.
 
In the photo above you can see one of my various experimentations with coaxing carrots seeds to germinate in the summer. Not an easy task in some years!
 
In this experiment I’m using burlap to keep the soil moist for longer. It worked pretty well!
carrots from the garden

What About Succession Planting the Rest of the Year?

As I shared in the beginning of this article, I tend to separate out spring, summer and fall succession plantings. We’ve covered summer plantings, which generally happen in June and July.
 
In my zone 5 garden my spring successions begin in mid-March in my cold frame, start in mid-April outside in the garden, and continue into May. If you want to plan out your spring plantings use can use this planting schedule.
 
Despite the name, I don’t recommend waiting to plant your fall vegetables until fall. It’s usually too late! Most of my fall plantings go into the ground from mid-August through the first week in September. Read more about what to plant in autumn.
harvesting beans in summer garden

Taking the First Steps in Summer Succession Planting

Now it’s time to take action in your garden!
 
If it’s June or July, go out and walk around the garden. Are there empty spaces you can fill with a summer planting? Do you have plants that are past their prime that can be pulled out to create space?
 
Then, think about your favorite vegetables to eat from the list of summer planted vegetables from earlier in this article. Are there some you never tire of? Others where you wish you had one more row planted?
These are the vegetables you should be prioritizing for summer planting.
 
Grab your seeds, tools, and organic fertilizer and get out there in the evening and start planting! You’ll be rewarded with more food for more months of the years. There’s no downside to that!

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More summer blog posts:

How to Extend Your Harvest into Fall and Winter

Come in for a Tour of My July Garden

 5 Ways to Preserve Food Without Canning

 

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Comments

  • Like this! Easy to understand! Now I just have to figure out what I need to plant in hot dry west Texas. My chard is starting to bolt. Pirates are ready.

    • Hi Michelle- West Texas is very different than Madison, WI, so I’d check some local sources for more information about summer succession planting. We don’t get nearly the hot weather in summer that you do. In fact, we never use the A/C at our house! It’s never that hot.

  • Thanks for the info. I’m in PA and the weather has been so wet. For the past few years we’ve had most of our garden in by now. I tried doing a second crop of broccoli but it never produced. The plant did well it was still alive in nov last year. When would I start the seeds for a second crop?

    • Great question, Renee. I’ll be starting my fall broccoli and cabbage seedlings inside this weekend. They need to go out into the garden in mid-July. You’re a similar zone to me, so you could probably follow the same timeline. The trick with fall planting is to give them enough time to mature. Plant growth slows down as we lose light. Good luck and keep me posted!

  • Great post! I am running out of space in my raised beds so I’m getting very selective about what goes in. Knowing that I can succession-plant makes me feel better; things can still go in as I take other things out!

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