It seems like just yesterday that the last winter freezes were attacking your garden at night, and now suddenly summer is upon us! Does spring really get shorter every year? For many of us, sowing vegetable and flower seeds indoors in late winter and early spring, and then transplanting when that “last scheduled frost date” has come and gone, is all that we can manage during this busy time. Once the summer heat arrives, we may feel we’ve missed the chance to do more with seeds, and we wind up filling garden holes and patio containers with store-bought plants instead. But is it really too late to start from seed? Absolutely not!
Perhaps it is our collective farming heritage that makes us instinctively eager to put plants out the minute we can in spring, to grow the first tomato on the block, to see sunflowers shooting up before the tulips have even passed. It’s true that we can extend our growing season by getting a good head start (and using some frost protection devices against the inevitable late cold snaps!), but it’s also true that we don’t have to abandon seed-starting just because the weather has heated up. Many seeds prefer warm soil, and nearly all will grow faster under such conditions.
So what’s good to sow and grow in June? Well, first look at what you’ve already got — or more accurately, what you wish you’d planted more of. Is it time for a second sowing of some of your favorite vegetables? Legumes don’t mind the heat, and bean seed planted in warm June soil will take off as if Jack were climbing them to get to the giant’s castle in the clouds. In all but the warmest parts of the country, you can squeeze in a late crop of peas, too — just sprinkle some Nature’s Aid into the planting hole and let all-natural live bacteria grow your legumes and build your soil, too!
It’s not too late at all for other quick-growing vegetables such as summer squash, onions, and even corn. Root vegetables such as carrots and beets also love a warm-soil planting. Even if you have already planted one crop of these, extend your harvest with a second sowing now, and enjoy a productive vegetable patch in late summer, when the rest of the garden is looking a bit past it!
Of course, the rest of the garden doesn’t have to look a bit past it, especially if you take the same “second crop” approach to fast-growing annuals that you do to vegetables. Now is a great time to toss out more Marigold seeds, to fill in the gaps in your Sunflower planting with fresh seeds, and to tuck Cosmos and Zinnia into empty spots in the sunny annual bed. Some seeds prefer warm soil — watch 4 o’Clocks take off eagerly from a June sowing, for example. (If you are a rose grower, consider planting 4 o’Clocks near your rose garden to lure away Japanese beetles.) Remember, all of these plants will grow more rapidly in the warm summer conditions than they do when started indoors and transplanted in chilly spring weather.
The herb garden always needs replenishing, and many types of herb seeds flourish in warm temperatures. Basil, thyme, sage, and oregano all benefit from a second sowing — and will continue to bear fresh leaves, if de-budded regularly, through late summer. Your Thanksgiving herbs may be particularly fresh and flavorful this year from a “second spring sowing” in June!