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How to Get Started with Late Spring and Summer Gardening


By Courtney Branch, Miracle Grounds Farm Coordinator

Spring is here! Or is it already summer?

It sure does feel like summer here in the NC Piedmont on some days! If you are a gardener, you understand the importance of watching the weather at this time of year, having backup plans, and making sure to plant and water accordingly. In this blog post, I hope to leave you with several tools and tips so that you can have a thriving Summer garden this year.

Where do you begin? Let’s assume you have a small yard and a raised bed or a few containers in which you plan to grow your own vegetables. If you haven’t already done so, clear any remaining dead material from the winter and clear weeds beginning to pop up.

The first step is to make a list of what you want to grow.  It’s a little late, but if you still need to do so, now is the time to get some seeds. Ordering at this time of year can be tricky as some suitable varieties are sold out so I suggest getting starts from your local plant sale or farmers market. If you want to buy summer or successional planting seeds for late summer and fall, I recommend Johnny’s Seeds, High Mowing Seed Company, or Sow True Seed. If possible, I suggest buying from a local company in your region because they are most likely to have seeds from plants growing nearby. 

Planting Seeds and Transplants

At this point of the season, if you plan to plant by seed or transplant, I would avoid planting cold-hardy vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, spinach, lima beans, and sugar snaps. If you plan to order seed I would stick to early summer or late summer crops.  Once you’ve ordered your seeds or found transplants, the next step is to create a planting calendar. This would include drawing out your bed for late spring and summer or planning your containers. Each packet of seed will tell you how big your plant will get, so taking some measurements and knowing your placement plan can be a huge help. You can note in your drawing how long each plant will take to produce fruit. Marking the time it takes to grow your plant can be very helpful so that you know when to expect food, plan your meals, and when to start preparing for a possible rotating crop.

Plant & Seed Suggestions

Below is a easy seed list to begin your early summer garden:

  • Tomatoes – Transplant 
  • Peppers – Transplant 
  • Basil – Transplant or Direct Seed
  • Eggplant – Direct Seed 
  • Pumpkins – Direct Seed 
  • Cucumbers – Direct Seed 
  • Okra – Direct Seed 
  • Carrots – Direct Seed
  • Radish – Direct Seed
  • Kale – Direct or Transplant
  • Beets – Direct Seed
  • Corn – Direct Seed
  • Melons – Direct Seed
  • Onions – Direct Seed
  • Herbs – Transplant

One of the biggest tips is to pack your beds full. You can always thin out vegetables if things are competing too much.

Planting some lettuce transplants!

Lastly, here are a few late spring gardening tasks you can work on while your seeds are growing:

  • Removal of weeds
  • Install irrigation
  • Divide perennials and bulbs
  • Prune trees

I hope this helps you get started. Research shows that digging in the dirt improves life satisfaction and lifts your spirits. Don’t have a garden of your own? We’d love to help you improve your mood while improving our garden. If you’re near our Winston-Salem campus and would like to get involved with garden volunteering, email me at farm@crossnore.org

Here’s to happy gardening!