Second Season Crop Planning: What to Plant

by Katie KucthaJuly 10, 2018

While most people plant their seeds in May and think they’re finished planting for the year, mid-to-late summer is a great time to plant a second season crop. Depending on where you live, you can plant several different cold-season or quick-maturing crops for an additional “bonus” harvest later in the season — or even well into the fall or winter months.

  1. Beets

    Beets mature quickly and are ready for harvest in as little as forty-eight days. For the best results, plant them ten to twelve weeks before your first expected frost. Their greens can be harvested at any time, and the fruits can be canned, frozen, or fed to animals as livestock fodder.

  2. Radishes

    Radishes grow well in a variety of soil types, and can even tolerate being grown in containers. Plant them four to six weeks before the last date of frost after working aged compost into the soil. Radishes do prefer full sun, so midsummer burning isn’t as much of a concern with this rotational crop.

  3. Broccoli

    Broccoli is a cold-season crop with the ability to germinate at soil temperatures less than forty degrees. It prefers cooler temperatures but also full sun, so mulching is a good way to make sure you don’t burn your plants. Plant broccoli about a hundred days before the average first frost date.

  4. Beans

    Fall-harvested beans are often more tender and flavorful than their spring-planted varieties. Bush beans work well for this purpose, as they grow more rapidly than pole varieties. Plant your beans about two months before the first expected frost.

  5. Cabbage

    For best results, start your cabbage seeds indoors, where you are less likely to expose them to harsh summer temperatures. This will also provide for steadier growth. Transplant once the seedlings are well-established, usually about ten weeks before the first killing frost.

  6. Garlic

    This culinary staple can be planted in the spring, but most gardeners prefer to plant it in the fall. This allows the plant ample time to develop roots throughout the winter and prepares them to support leaf growth in the spring. Garlic grows best in loose, well-mulched soil to protect the roots from any winter damage. Keep in mind that growing garlic requires patience – you won’t harvest it until the next year.

  7. Kale & Other Leafy Greens

    Kale is a delicious second season crop that is hardy down to twenty degrees. Summer-grown kale tends to be more bitter than at other times of years, making spring and fall ideal times to harvest this superfood. You might also consider planting spinach, leaf lettuce, or Swiss chard throughout various intervals during the growing season as well, so that you always have a steady supply of nutrient-dense leafy greens.

  1. Turnips

    You can sow turnip seeds at several points throughout the season. For a fall harvest, sow the seeds in late summer. Seeds germinate in just four to seven days and can be planted just a month or two before the first expected frost.

  2. Brussels sprouts

    Brussels sprouts are also members of the brassica family, making them ideal for planting in colder weather. They can even survive light snow and frost in some cases, and a light frost actually improves the taste of these nutritious vegetables.

  3. Kohlrabi

    Kohlrabi is packed with vitamins and minerals and prefers growing in colder weather. It only takes about six weeks to mature, so consider planting in late summer for a more flavorful crop come fall.

Before you plant, make sure you fertilize to replace the nutrients that the previously planted crops have utilized. You can till in plant debris from first plantings, or even add compost for a boost of organic nutrients. Keep in mind that you’ll also need to keep your seedlings moist and protected from the harsh summer sun as they are first transplanted or sown, whereas this usually isn’t as pressing a factor during spring planting.

The key to growing a successful second harvest is to time it perfectly. As the days get shorter and cooler in the summer, decide on the plants you’d like to grow and time their plantings accordingly. Look at your average first frost date, and then estimate your planting by adding fourteen days to a seed packet’s estimated maturity (this takes into account the shortening days and lack of intense mid-summer sun).

For best results, plant a variety of crops throughout the spring, summer, and fall. This way, your plate will always be filled to the brim with a multitude of colorful, healthy, and tasty home-grown crops.

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About The Author
Katie Kuctha
Katie Kuctha is a gardening guru and amateur foodie. She can often be found with a taco in one hand and a margarita in the other, follow her on instagram @atxtacoqueen.