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Growing a Late Summer Garden

By on Aug 20, 2017 in Blog, Container Gardening, Summer Garden, Warm Weather Veggies | 14 comments

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Many gardeners think that because summer is winding down its too late to start warm weather veggies. In this blog post I am going share why a late summer garden with warm weather veggies may work for you, and how to know if you have time in the season to start one.  I’ll also share what, how, and where to plant to get your late summer garden off to a quick start.

Why a late summer garden?

A late summer garden gives you something to harvest into the fall.

Many of the tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and other warm weather veggies you planted in the spring might be winding down and past their peak.  They might be looking a bit worn by the heat of summer or diseases that have crept in to your garden.  However, as gardeners, we have a constant itch to grow something and have fresh, tasty, healthy food to eat

Planting a late summer crop of new, strong plants will give you veggies to harvest into the fall and even into the winter months, if you live in a warm southern climate like I do.

If you live in the southern hemisphere, spring is just around the corner, this can be the start to your spring garden of warm weather veggies.

How to know if you have time in the growing season?

The key is to know the first date your location usually gets a frost.  If you don’t know your first frost date, you can find it on the Farmer’s Almanac frost date calculator for US and Canada.  Just enter your zip code and  it will give you the approximate date for your area.

What to plant?

You’ve got your first frost date, now what?  Once you have that date, the key is to choose veggie varieties that you have time to grow from seed to harvest before they are killed off by a frost, or damaged by cold.

Red Racer Tomato goes from transplant to harvest in 57 days.

For example, I am growing a Red Racer Tomato, a 2018 All America Selections Winner (more about this later).  This tomato plant is a quick producer, and goes from transplant to harvest in about 57 days.  This means that if I transplant a seedling the middle of August, and my first frost date is October 15th, in about 60 days, I will be able to get a nice tomato harvest before it is killed off or damaged by frost.

The summer growing season is coming to a close for many gardeners.  Although I grow year round here in So Cal, the weather will start to get cooler in a the late fall.  In my late summer garden, since the time is short – I want a harvest quick, before the weather turns cold.  Because of this, I’ve chosen quick producing, top performing varieties that are  All America Selections  Winners.

All America Selections (AAS) is an organization that has been around since the 1930’s.  Its mission is to promote new, top performing garden varieties.  These new garden varieties go through a series of impartial trials where they are grown and assessed against other similar varieties (that are already on the market) at trial gardens all across north America.

The new varieties that perform best in the trial gardens are deemed winners and receive the title All America Selections Winner.

The varieties I am growing are all AAS Winners, compact varieties, that can be grown in container or in ground.  These varieties are quick producers, so I’ll have plenty to harvest before cooler weather hits.

AAS winning varieties I am growing

Start your late summer garden the supplies you have on hand – but if you need seeds, following are the AAS winners I am growing and a bit about each.

Red Racer Tomato  – 2018 AAS winner

Red Racer Tomato – 2018 All America Selections Winner

The Red Racer Tomatoe is a gorgeous red, cocktail tomato that produces clusters of red, cocktail sized tomato, (larger than a cherry tomato).  This is a determinate tomato (produces all at once, then the plant dies), a compact plant (3 feet tall), and goes from seed to harvest in 90 days.  Because it is a brand new AAS winner, seeds are not yet available.

Pretty n Sweet Pepper

Pretty n Sweet Pepper is an “ornamedible”.

Pretty n Sweet Pepper is a bright multi-colored compact ornamental sweet pepper.  It looks beautiful in the garden and tastes great too!  Pretty n Sweet grows about 18” high, doesn’t need staking and goes from seed to harvest 100 days. This “ornamedible” pepper makes a perfect late summer  planting for southern gardeners who have a bit more time left in their growing season.

Patio Baby Eggplant

Patio Baby Eggplant – a good choice for containers.

The Patio Baby Eggplant produces deep purple fruit that is 1-2 inches in size.  This prolific producer is compact, and a perfect container plant.  It is thornless, and goes from seed to harvest in 75-85 days – earlier than most eggplant.

 

Cucumber – Parisian Gherkin & Pick a Bushel

Don’t you just want to “Pick a Bushel” of cucumbers?

How can you go wrong with a name like Pick a Bushel?  Both Pick a bushel and the Parisian Gherkin are compact plants that produce small, crisp, and sweet cucumbers that are perfect for pickling or fresh eating.

 

Pick a Bushel seedlings almost ready to plant in the garden.

These quick producers go from seed to harvest in 50 days.  WOW – I’ll be harvesting these before I know it!

 

 

Persian Basil is late to flower, meaning the tasty leaves can be enjoyed longer.

Persian Basil

This is a sweet variety of basil with silvery green leaves and is slower to produce flowers than other varieties.  (Flowering often causes the basil leaves to turn bitter.)  Not only are the leaves super tasty, but the green foliage and sturdy branches make it a beautiful landscape plant as well.

 

Zinnia Red Profusion

The brightly colored Red Profusion Zinnia flowers will not fade in the hot sun.

I’m including flowers in my late summer garden –  it’s important to keep the pollinators around so my veggies produce!  Zinnias are one of my favorite flowers, and I can’t wait til the Red Profusion Zinnias bloom.  These are a compact zinnia – they grow in a mounded shape –  8-14 inches high, and are disease resistant.   They have  true vibrant red color, a 2 inch flower that will last until frost and will remain true red, and not fade, even in the summer heat.

 

How to get off to a quick start to a late summer garden

Late summer seedlings off to a quick start in peat pellets.

I got off to a quick start with my late summer garden by starting seeds in indoors in peat pellets on a heat mat using indoor grow lights.  This provides a more controlled environment so that the seedlings grow stronger faster and I can get them outside in my garden as soon as possible.

 

Smart Pots Big Bag Bed Long adds nearly 11 square feet of growing space to the garden.

Where I am planting

My garden is full vegetables that have been growing since spring – where to plant?  I am growing my late summer garden in a Smart Pots 8 foot Big Bag Long (BBBL) container. It is easy to pop up, fill with soil (I’m using Good Dirt) and gives me an extra 11 feet of growing space!  It also comes in a 6 and 12 foot length, and fits perfectly up against my backyard fence, which will shelter the veggies once the weather does turn cold here in Southern California.

If you are growing a late summer garden, make sure to check out All America Selections for more information about their winners and where to purchase seeds.  You’ll love growing these top producing varieties in your garden!

If you’re a northern gardener and don’t have enough time left in the growing season to grow warm weather veggies, no worries.  I’ll also be doing a series on cool weather veggies –  some will even tolerate some frost.  Stay tuned!

Watch the video from my YouTube channel, “Grow a Late Summer Garden”  so you can see exactly  how to get yours started!  ,I will be doing update videos as my late summer garden grows and as I harvest, so please subscribe to my YouTube channel so you get notified when I post an update.

 

Comment below, let me know if you’ll be growing a late summer garden with me with me!

Thanks to All America Selections, Smart Pots and Good Dirt for providing the supplies for my late summer garden and for teaming up with me on the “Grow Your Late Summer Garden” series.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links –  I make a small commission when you order through these links and its helps me keep the garden content coming!

My eBook * My Partners Store * My Amazon Store

 

You can follow me, view how-to videos, photos of my garden, and lots of growing tips and tricks, on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest

 

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14 Comments

  1. Alex

    August 22, 2017

    Post a Reply

    Thanks for all the great gardening tips. Yes, I will be starting a late summer garden.

  2. Marc

    August 22, 2017

    Post a Reply

    Interesting idea, Kim. Up north here close to the 49th parallel we are seeing much shorter days than in June so even though we still have a few months before the first frost most sun-loving crops are petering out. I wouldn’t even try to plant tomatoes or peppers now (but maybe I’ll try next year in July).

    However I did have success with cutting down my aphid-invested kale plants and now have new shoots coming up. And pruned my Strawberries last month and they have flowers again. All without having to plant anything new! 😊

    • CaliKim

      August 25, 2017

      Post a Reply

      That’s a great point, Marc. The shorter hours of daylight will definitely affect production for some of those summer plants. So glad that you had success renewing your kale and strawberries! Keep me updated on how your plants are growing this fall season and happy gardening!

  3. Charlene Dryman

    August 23, 2017

    Post a Reply

    My eggplant is still growing, 3rd planting of tomatoes died, 2nd planting of zucchini and squash has died. I keep trying to get cucumbers to grow, but they die as soon as they reach 1 ft high. Now I am just trying to get some new compost in the garden and get it covered with hay. Next month maybe I can get my fall crops to grow. My first stand of peppers never had blooms, so I cut all the tops off and am awaiting new blooms. It’s funny because I usually have peppers grow and produce from march through january. Not this year. I got one rotted bell and one small edible bell and a handful of banana peppers. Weird year.

    • Rick

      August 24, 2017

      Post a Reply

      Have you had luck with cucumbers before? Just a thought but maybe try growing them in containers?

    • CaliKim

      August 25, 2017

      Post a Reply

      Hello Charlene,
      This has been a challenging year for many gardeners, but I just love that you are looking at ways to rebuild and renew your soil for new plants this fall. Keep me updated on how your peppers are doing and what fall plants you choose to put in. Happy gardening!

  4. Sonya Brooks

    August 24, 2017

    Post a Reply

    I love this article because I just took what I thought would be almost the last harvest of all my tomatoes and peppers yesterday. I was already having that thought of what will I grow for fall. Can you give me some ideas on where I should purchase seeds that are AAS winners? I’m in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (SE Florida, Zone 10) so I feel like I could get one more harvest of tomatoes and some pollinators going to keep my limited pollinators around. I welcome all your suggestions.

    • CaliKim

      August 25, 2017

      Post a Reply

      Hi, Sonya! So glad that you got a great harvest and are inspired to start a fall garden! You can find AAS seeds on the AAS website here: ​http://all-americaselections.org. They do not directly sell seeds, but they do have a list of distributors there so that you can find your own. I always list links to the different supplies listed in my videos in the video description to make it easier for my viewers to find them. Hope that helps! Keep me updated on how your fall garden in doing and happy gardening!

  5. Rick

    August 24, 2017

    Post a Reply

    I too am in the North but I’m starting a second batch of Carrots, Lettuce and Radishes in containers. Been a wet Spring and Summer in this part of the country and seems to be cooling down a little early this year

    • CaliKim

      August 25, 2017

      Post a Reply

      Hi Rick,
      Those types of veggies should do really well this fall season- what varieties do you like to plant?

  6. Rick

    September 23, 2017

    Post a Reply

    Hi Kim!

    Well the garden is closed up for the season but I have some carrots and radishes growing in containers. I am using your suggestion of raking and mulching leaves and saving them for Spring to use as mulch though. Do you think storing them in paper leaf bags, in the garage will be ok?

  7. Marc

    October 16, 2017

    Post a Reply

    I’ll provide a quick update: we’re harvesting some strawberries now and my kale plants are lush again.

    I also planted some cuke seeds in the greenhouse and they are growing well with some small cukes forming. A bit of mildew on the leaves so I might try your milk recipe (can I use soy milk?)

    Also my Roma tomato plants were done in the greenhouse but I noticed some new leaves sprouting so I just cut them down to where the new branches are coming out of the main stem and we’ll see what happens. Daytime temps are still around 20-25 C when the sun shines but i don’t think I’ll get any blossoms or fruit this Winter – if the plants survive I might have a head start in spring. I’ll post some photos on Instagram this weekend.

    • CaliKim

      October 24, 2017

      Post a Reply

      Hi Marc,

      It’s always fun to see what plants survive the winter and have a jump on your spring planting. I haven’t tried soy milk for powdery mildew, but give it a go and see how it works for you. Experimenting in the garden is how I learn too. Thanks for visiting me here on the blog!

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