It’s not too late to start a garden!

Hey, all you northern folks! It’s not too late to start a garden this summer! Heck, all us early gardeners got bitten by a hard frost the last week in May, so you’re actually ahead of the game.

First, be sure you’ve got the basics covered: sun, soil, and water. Then the fun part: planting!

You can plant any summer crops right now and still expect a good harvest. You might try:

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Eggplants
  • Beans
  • Squash – summer types like zucchini or yellow crookneck, winter types like acorn or butternut, cucumbers, melons, etc.
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Chard
  • Grains
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Quinoa

The following are usually “cool weather” crops but should do fine unless there’s a big heat wave soon:

  • Kale and broccoli (start from plants, not seeds, at this point)
  • Peas
  • Fennel
  • Potatoes

The only things I wouldn’t bother with at this point are lettuce and spinach – it’ll probably get too hot for them before they’re big enough to eat. Though if you can find some seedlings cheap, give it a whirl in a shady location. If the summer gets off to a cool start, they might do quite well!

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7 Comments

  1. Derrick said,

    June 3, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    I don’t think I’d be considered “northern” but I _still_ haven’t planted my beans :(

    It feels like all of my free time between the rain is taken up with maintaining the garden. The garden is so “off” and weird this year–must be an odd weather cycle. I still have tomatoes that are so small they worry me. I’ve got-I think-about three weeks before I need to start some more seedlings for my fall crops. I’ll pray to the garden gods for them.

    My radishes on the other hand! WHOA! I don’t know what they got into, but they are HUGE!

    Too bad I can’t make a bacon, lettuce, and radish sandwich taste like a BLT :)

  2. Emily said,

    June 3, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    Derrick – Ok, so you’re a little south of me (southern Michigan), but don’t worry – tomatoes are *supposed* to be small this time of year. Mine are probably only 9″ tall, yet I have no worries they’ll be exploding out of the 5′ tall cages by August. They’re a late summer/early fall harvest crop, really; don’t expect anything of them until mid- to late-August.

    And aren’t radishes wild? We forget that they are a big honkin’ mustard plant, and the reason you harvest them 28 days after planting is because we eat them at such a tiny stage – the original baby vegetable!

    Bacon and radishes might not taste like BLT, but lots of people swear by radish sandwiches! Hang in there…the tomatoes will be here soon enough and you’ll probably be ready to see the end of them by October. :)

  3. Starr said,

    June 24, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Oh speaking of gardens…. mine is doing really well! It’s is big and leafy… beautiful! I need to take some photos. The squash have flowers on them, the tomatoes all have actual tomatoes on them! Yay! Oh and get this… I have a random (I am guessing from last year with the former owner) tomatoe plant growing out of my sewer!

  4. Emily said,

    June 24, 2008 at 9:14 am

    Starr- that’s great! Pull that tomato out of the sewer and plant it in the garden, if you have room. :) And don’t freak out if the first squash blossoms wilt without producing squash. There are male and female flowers, and the male ones usually start blooming first. The female ones will have baby squash under them, and if they get pollinated (usually not a problem), they will grow rapidly into edible squash.

  5. Elizabeth said,

    February 5, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    Hi! I love your page :)

    I just have a question.

    How do I know where to get good ‘quality’ top soil? Where I live in michigan, the dirt we have outback is considered a sand and a clay.

    It’s fustrating. I would love to grow other things. The only things we seem to be able to grow is Tomatoes, or potoatoes :S

    Do you have any ideas?

    • Emily said,

      February 5, 2011 at 7:55 pm

      Most landscaping companies sell “garden blend” soil that is generally good.

  6. Anonymous said,

    May 24, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Don’t eat that one from the sewer, you can guess where those seeds came from. Unless it was grown in soil with Lyme added to it, the ‘sewer tomato’ could make you sick.


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