In only 2 weeks it will be the first of July and this is the time for many gardeners to start planting their fall garden. In some of the northern U.S. fall gardens should be planted not later than the 20th of June.
Timing the planting of your fall garden is critical. When planting a fall garden time is not on your side. Being even a few days late planting your fall garden can be the difference in a good fall harvest or having a fall frost kill your garden before you can harvest any vegetables!
Dry pea vines and spent spinach may be all that’s left of your spring/summer garden. By rototilling compost into nutrient depleted soil, gardeners can jump start new crops for harvest in the fall. For gardens in warmer areas, plant seed in July for broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and other cabbage-family cole crops like kohlrabi, kale and collards. The plants will mature in the fall when it’s cool, making crops sweeter at harvest because plant respiration decreases and more sugar accumulates at lower temperatures.
Plant seed a half-inch below the surface and keep the soil on it moist until seedlings emerge. Moist soil cools seed and increases the number of seedlings. The first two leaves that emerge will be seedling leaves. Wait until two true leaves emerge, then thin the seedlings to the appropriate spacing for each type of crop. Apply a balanced fertilizer periodically during the growing season for optimum growth.
July is also a good time to plant bush snap beans. Unlike cole crops, which benefit from supplemental nitrogen fertilizer for good growth, green beans produce their own nitrogen.
Nodules on the roots contain Rhizobium bacteria that extract nitrogen from the air and convert it to a form the plants can use. However, gardeners who are planting beans for the first time may want to inoculate the seed with bacteria before planting. Many seed catalogs and nurseries sell Rhizobium bacteria in small packages. Pour the powder-like bacteria directly into seed packets and shake it to cover the seed, then plant and irrigate.
Bean seed planted in gardens where beans were previously grown do not need to be inoculated because the bacteria are already established in the soil. Nitrogen produced by beans will remain in the soil and can be used by corn and other crops the following year. Organic growers often use beans, peas and other “nitrogen-fixing” plants as rotation crops to enrich the soil because the nitrogen produced by them is considered natural.
Pick green snap beans when the pods are relatively smooth, before the seed makes them lumpy and tough. Pick the pods frequently so that the plants continue to produce new pods. Keep weeds and insect pests under careful control during late summer and early fall.
Plant short season tomato’s. Train tomatoes to cages to keep vines off the ground because the fruit tends to rot if it touches the soil. Cages will reduce sunscald because the vines provide more shade, and the fruit is easier to pick. Use mulch such as dry grass clippings or straw at the base of cages to conserve moisture and reduce incidence of dry rot on the tips of the fruit known as blossom end rot.
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