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CAROLE McCRAY: A second season

on June 30, 2013 2:50 AM

Mid to late summer is an ideal time to plant seeds for a second gardening season. To enjoy a continuation of fall crops, planting in the middle of or later in summer will mean a great harvest for Thanksgiving and through the early fall months and even in light winter weather.

When planted later in the summer, that means there is less concern for weeds and pests and not so much work in the garden with late producing crops.

Crops will not bolt to seed or taste bitter like they can in the summer heat.

There are herbs and vegetables best suited to cool weather for a second gardening season. Herbs to try are borage, chervil, chives, cilantro, dill, bronze fennel and parsley. Cool weather vegetables are beets, broccoli rabe, carrots, chard, lettuces, mesculn mixes, Bok choi and peas.

To have a successful second gardening season, it is important for seedlings to have good starter growth and strongly established root systems. Your goal is to have plants that are fully-grown and ready to pick; this way the plants store themselves in the garden throughout the fall and winter months. When that happens, you can pick them when you need them and can enjoy a long season of harvesting fresh herbs and vegetables beyond the summer garden.

You can choose a couple options for how to plant seeds. In containers or in the garden, either will work. If space is limited, container gardening may be the answer. If you opt for containers, avoid terra cotta ones as plants dry out quickly in them. Choose containers with good drainage so plants do not rot.

For the seeds to germinate, plant where they will receive lots of light; some sun or a lightly shaded area are best, so avoid planting in an area that receives full sun.

Best time to plant seeds is in the evening in soil that has been well prepared and slightly moist. The cool evening temperatures provide the seeds with a chance to become acclimated and lessen the possibility of shock.

To adjust to hot sun and high temperatures during the day, provide shelter for your seedlings by covering them with row covers or shade cloths for several days.

Once the seedlings are well established, keep supplying them with adequate moisture. Give them a regular dose of fertilizer in their early growth stages.

There are advantages to planting at this time of the year.

You will find seeds and plants on sale.

Also, since the ground has warmed up over the summer months, seeds will germinate more quickly than in the spring.

And there will be less weeding since weed growth has slowed down by late summer.

Planting a second round of crops at the time of the year when vegetable gardens are at their peak of production might appear odd, but you will reap the rewards of fresh vegetables and herbs picked from your fall and winter garden.

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