Late summer is traditionally harvest time, but don’t despair if you aren’t quite ready to pack the tools away for winter. The season doesn’t have to end if you fill those that empty space with a variety of fast-growing, low-maintenance vegetables.
There are several benefits to planting vegetables in late summer. For example, seeds germinate quickly because the soil is still warm. Usually, summer-planted veggies need less water and there are fewer weeds to pull or hoe.
Figure out the average date of the first hard frost
Keep in mind, however, that most veggies must be planted early enough to reach maturity before serious winter sets in. To determine planting time, figure out the average date of the first hard frost in your area, then count backward according to the “days to maturity” information on the seed packet.
You may be surprised how many vegetables come to maturity in about 60 days. The following are suitable for planting in mid-August in most regions, and a few can be planted as late as mid-September.
- Baby carrots are ready for harvest very quickly and the plants are fairly frost tolerant.
- Kohlrabi matures in about six weeks. Don’t worry about a little frost with this tasty veggie.
- Turnips are crispier and sweeter when nights are long and cool.
- Arugula is a spicy little plant that prefers cool temperatures.
- Mustard greens don’t appreciate hot weather, but mid- to late summer is perfect timing.
- Light frost actually brings out the flavor in collards.
- Swiss chard is a fast-growing veggie that thrives when planted about 40 days before the last average frost date.
- In many climates, late summer provides ample time for planting sweet, crunchy
- Peas love cool weather, but opt for fast-growing varieties if frost arrives early in your area.
- Kale is a tough plant that tolerates cold weather. Harvest this nutritious veggie in fall and winter.
- Get beets in the ground 45 to 60 days before the last frost. Soak the seeds overnight for even speedier germination.
- You can plant snap beans in late summer if your climate allows at least two months of relatively mild weather. Most varieties can tolerate a little light frost with no problem.
- Plant radishes as late as September for harvest in about three weeks.
- Plant spinach in late summer and harvest the leafy greens well into October.
- Leaf lettuce is perfectly happy when temperatures drop, and some varieties can tolerate light frost.