Don’t stop planting because it’s July

The heat is on.

July is generally when the hottest summer days begin and we’ve already had a few pretty hot days in June. This means our lettuce, spinach and basil have likely bolted and turned bitter.

Bolt is the term used by gardeners to describe a plant that has quickly flowered and begun setting seeds. Tender leafy plants such as lettuce and spinach prefer cooler weather and when the hottest days begin, they respond by bolting. These plants are ending their growing season and need to produce seeds quickly to ensure their species will go on. Don’t worry though. In another four weeks, you can start more lettuce and spinach seeds for a fall harvest when night temperatures are cooler and before the first freeze.

In addition to losing those plants in the garden, it is likely you’ve already been harvesting things like pod and shelling peas, radishes and early beans. If that’s the case, there is probably some available space in the garden to plant a few more vegetables.

Here in northeast Ohio, we don’t have a long growing season so we have to take advantage of the time we have. By practicing succession planting, which is to continue to plant throughout the season, we can enjoy fresh vegetables all summer and well into fall. Not only that, but we can preserve any excess vegetables for use during the winter. Over the past few years, more and more people are taking another look at growing their own vegetables versus paying high grocery story prices for vegetables that were grown in other countries and traveled long distances to get to us.

Not only are we learning how easy it is to grow our own food, but we’re also getting adjusted to eating what’s in season. The great thing about the human diet is that we aren’t limited to only a few types of food for our nutrition.

So what can we plant now?

It’s not too late to put in more short season green beans. We also can plant cole crops, such as broccoli and cauliflower. If we planned ahead, we could have started these plants from seed last month in anticipation of the space we would have available in the garden now. If you didn’t do this, check the local garden centers for the last of the vegetable plants they have to offer.

If your basil and spinach have bolted, go ahead and sow more seeds for another crop about mid-August. Successive planting of seeds indoors about every two weeks from now until mid-August will keep those vegetables coming into the kitchen for quite a while.