BOISE, Idaho — If you haven't gotten around to planting your vegetable garden yet, it's not too late. You can plant crops of vegetables and flowers, even in the heat of summer, that will grow quickly and let you harvest before the cold weather arrives in the fall.
On this edition of You Can Grow It, KTVB Garden Master Jim Duthie shares some ideas for a few vegetables and flowers that you can plant right now, and you will still be able to get some beautiful blooms and tasty treats before the growing season ends.
Many vegetables and and some flowers will grow quickly with the warm weather, producing blooms and vegetables by the end of August, weeks before the first frost for most areas of southern Idaho.
First, some flowers. Zinnias will grow and bloom in just a few weeks, so they have plenty of time to produce a burst of end-of-summer and early-fall color. They don't mind the summer heat, and they will provide a supply of nectar for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds at the end of the growing season.
However, they will start to die out after the first frost. A good variety would be 'fruit smoothie,' since it blooms in just 60 days.
Cosmos are a favorite heading into fall. The daisy-shaped flowers come in a wide range of colors and can grow from 1 to 5 feet high. They can be a little slow to germinate and grow at first, but they bloom quickly. 'Sensation mix' is a great variety for summer planting.
As for vegetables, bush green beans love the summer heat and bright sunshine, and they will mature much earlier than pole beans. Select a variety like 'early bush Italian' or 'top crop' that will mature in 45 to 60 days, and you will be picking fresh beans by mid-to-late August, and right up until the first frost.
Fast-growing vine or bush cucumber plants will produce a bumper crop of delicious cucumbers for a late-summer or early-fall harvest. Varieties like 'straight eight,' 'early fortune,' and 'double yield,' will be ready to pick in less than 60 days. Give them plenty of water during the hot summer weather.
Plant some kale or some swiss chard, or both. They are great companion plants in the garden, and planting these leafy greens from mid-July into mid-August will yield an excellent harvest, even into late fall and early winter.
Harvest them when the leaves are small, and they will be more tender and tasty than the fully mature leaves. Try 'Russian' or 'flat leaf' kale, and 'bright lights' swiss chard.
Don't forget the other leafy vegetables. Mid-to-late summer is a good time to plant lettuce and spinach, which will grow quickly and will be much less likely to bolt as temperatures start to cool down. These greens will withstand a few light frosts before they stop producing edible leaves.
If you have room, plant a row each of beets, carrots, green onions, radishes and turnips. They will grow quickly with the warm summer weather, and they will be ready for harvest as the cooler days of fall arrive.
In most cases, these root vegetables will withstand sub-freezing temperatures, and you can keep harvesting until the ground freezes.
Finally – herbs. Mid-summer is a good time to grow a variety of herbs in containers. They will flourish in the warm sunny weather right up until the first frost, and then you can move them indoors to continue growing and harvesting.
Put them in a sunny window and keep the soil slightly most, and you will have beautiful houseplants, with the added benefit of savory scents and flavors through the winter.
Basil and other herbs, including oregano, parsley, rosemary and thyme, are the most popular and will do well when moved indoors when colder weather arrives. They can even be grown indoors throughout the year.
If the average first frost for your area is in late September or October, you can probably have blossoming flowers and mature vegetables up until that first frost, even if you plant from seed now.
There are many varieties of vegetables that mature early, so you will have plenty of time to enjoy the fruits of your labors – and You Can Grow It.
Be sure to keep the soil moist when you first plant the seeds, and then give your plants plenty of water once they germinate and start to grow during the hot days of summer. Then, water less as the days start to cool down heading toward fall.
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