Enjoy Your Own Harvesting
The fresh taste of a vine ripened tomato or snap pea harvested at its flavorful peak is second to none.
There’s few things more rewarding than growing vegetables in your own backyard. The fresh taste of a vine ripened tomato or snap pea harvested at its flavorful peak is second to none. Vegetable gardens are a great family activity, one that provides rewarding outdoor exercise. And knowing that your organically-grown veggies carry none of the risks of today’s commercial, factory-farm produce can be priceless.
To ensure you raise the best-tasting, most nutritious food for your family — in ways that make your garden as safe and healthy as it can be — takes planning, know-how and experience. Click the blog articles here for information on locating your new garden plot, improving soil health, selecting the best vegetable varieties for your growing conditions, and caring for your plants — naturally! — all the way to harvest.
Know Your Hardiness Zone and First Frost Date
Knowing the average first frost date for your region will allow you to calculate “planting deadlines” so that your young plants have time to mature before the temperatures fall and the first frost hits. Consulting the USDA hardiness zone map will help you determine whether a particular plant can thrive and survive in your part of the country. These two tools will help you determine not only which crops you should plant but also when you should have those crops in the ground.
Choose Crops Wisely
Two types of plants are good bets to thrive when planted in midsummer—those that mature quickly and those that tolerate frost.
Paying attention to maturation time is key because crops planted in the summer months take longer to mature than those planted in the spring as shorter days/less daylight and cooler air temperatures combine to slow plant growth. (The good news? While your fall plantings make take longer to mature, they will face fewer threats from pests this time of year.)
To ensure your plants mature in time for harvest, add a few extra days to the “days to maturity” guidelines typically found on seed packets and then count back the total number of days on your calendar to arrive at your summer planting date. Quick-maturing vegetables include bush beans, cucumbers, radishes, and tomatoes.
Crops that will tolerate a light frost and keep growing even when temperatures drop. Some of these cold-tolerant vegetables—particularly kale and Brussels sprouts—actually taste better when grown in cool weather as they react to cold by producing sugars which then sweeten them. Take note, however—while spinach, turnips, rutabagas, and scallions can be direct sown, you will need to start most brassicas indoors weeks before the midsummer planting period.