Second Crop Vegetables
Having children living near the 45th and 35th parallels (I’m close the 40th) I am aware of the different amounts of light we get during the winter and summer. That light (among other factors) determines the growing zones that are mapped out across the United States. The zones are determined by average first and last frosts and by the lowest winter temperature. That said second crops for some zones may not be possible, while three or more crops may be possible in some of the longer zones.
The following link shows a map of hardiness zones in the US.
It’s the middle of July, and the peas, radishes, lettuce and spinach have been picked and pulled leaving rows or sections of the garden barren, begging the weeds that have been pulled or choked out from the rest of the garden to take refuge. The cure? Plant a second crop of the vegetables. While it is easiest to plant the same vegetables you planted in the early spring, there are a few other options.
First, here are a few general tips. Start as soon as possible. As I found out the first time I tried planting a second crop of peas, August may be too late to plant crops of even the shortest growing times, depending on the first hard frost of the fall. I start in mid July since by then early crops like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, radishes, and peas, usually have been harvested. Not only do any of these vegetables make good choices, but other crops like early corn varieties, onions, beets, and others can be planted successfully as well. Check with your local nursery or seed store for varieties that will thrive at this time of the year in your area. The trick to this second planting is making sure it gets a good fast start (your local nursery can help with this as well). Make sure the plants get enough water, since they are used to spring moisture, and weed as often as you weeded the first crop. Remember the weeds have probably been crowded out of the rest of the garden, and will be competing with the new plants as they come up. With the warmer temperatures, the plants (and unfortunately the weeds) will grow faster. If bugs have been a problem in the garden they will be thriving at this time of year and make quick work of new tender plants. Use whatever spray the people at your local nursery suggest. Finally, harvest sooner rather than later. Early frost may not affect hardy plants, but a heavy frost or snow might, eliminating that second crop you’ve been looking forward to.
The reward of a second crop of spring vegetables at the end of the growing season is well worth the effort. Why let that garden space go to waste?