Plus, planting bee-friendly flowers near your vegetables also supports struggling pollinator populations and biodiversity. You can also plant flowers specifically to attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and other desirable species.
Ready to get started? Before you order your seeds, here are five tips that Saska says are important to keep in mind when selecting flower varieties for your vegetable patch.
- Pay Attention to Bloom Time
- Consider Flower Shape
- Space Them Out
- Think About Height
- Start Simple
- Vegetable Garden Pros and Cons
- Flower Garden Pros and Cons
- Why not both?
- Midsummer Planting Tips: What To Plant In Midsummer
- Midsummer Planting Tips
- What to Plant in Midsummer
- Creating A Fall Vegetable Garden – How & What To Plant
- Second Season Sowing: Mid-Summer Planting for Fall Harvests
- What is second season sowing?
- When to plant a second crop of seeds for fall harvest.
Pay Attention to Bloom Time
Evgeny Ivanov / EyeEmGetty Images
In order for companion planting with flowers to work, you have to select flowers that will bloom at the same time as your veggie crops. If the type you planted doesn’t blossom until two weeks after your peas finish flowering, your peas are out of luck.
Seed packets will tell you how soon flowers will bloom after planting so that you can sync up your planting schedule. However, it’s a good idea to plant a variety of flowers to ensure that you’ve got continuous blooms throughout the entire growing season.
Consider Flower Shape
The flowers that attract hummingbirds are not the same as those that attract bees or beneficial wasps. The flower’s shape makes it easier or harder for different species to access the nectar and pollen. To attract bees and other pollinators, Saska recommends choosing flowers with a composite shape, like zinnias, cosmos, daisies, sunflowers, and purple coneflower.
Space Them Out
Sprinkle flowers throughout the garden rather than planting them in one clump. How you do it is really up to you. You can plant a row of veggies followed by a row of flowers, or you can interspace them within the same row. Consider getting strategic and using flowers to break up a row to indicate where your sweet peppers end and your hot peppers begin. Or, plant flowers to form a border around the outside of the bed.
Think About Height
Antonia Gruber / EyeEmGetty Images
You don’t want your flowers competing with your veggies for sunlight, so choose mostly low-growing flowers. However, some crops (like lettuces) might benefit from a little shade during the summer months, so occasionally it makes sense to go with a taller variety.
Saska recommends that beginners start by working with annual flowers because they’re grow easily and produce lots of blooms. You also don’t have to worry about them coming up in the same spot every year if you want to change your garden design. (Get started with these annual flowers you can easily grow from seed.)
However, native perennials are one of the best ways to attract native bees, so don’t omit them from your yard entirely. The Xerces Society offers a great region-by-region guide to pollinator-friendly plants (mainly perennials) and includes information on bloom time, height, and watering needs.
When planning out your summer garden, you’ll want to decide whether to incorporate vegetables, flowers, or a little of each. Both vegetable gardens and flower gardens have pros and cons to them and each type of garden comes with its own risks and rewards. Find out more below to discover which garden type is right for you.
Vegetable Garden Pros and Cons
Grow your own food
There is nothing more satisfying than grocery shopping in your garden. A cherry tomato will never taste so sweet as one grown in your own backyard. You’ll also know exactly where the food came from and can enjoy it, knowing that it is chemical-free.
Fun project with kids
Teaching kids to plant, water, and care for vegetables is a perfect family summer activity. Kids will be delighted as they watch their hard work grow into something edible. It is so rewarding for kids to put effort into something and experience the end result.
Fresh produce all summer long
You can enjoy fresh produce throughout the summer without running to the shops at the last minute. And it will all taste better, knowing that you cultivated it yourself.
Vegetable gardens are more susceptible to crop loss due to pests or wildlife. Gardeners often put in many hours of hard work and labour only to find their plants eaten by deer or insects.
Planting a vegetable garden each year takes many hours of planning and labouring throughout the season. Additionally, you’ll need to spend time watering, weeding, and checking when food is ready to harvest. Vegetable gardens also need to be cleared out and replanted each year, starting the entire process over again.
Need a large amount of space
Planting a vegetable garden takes up a dedicated amount of space in your back garden. In order to produce a significant amount of fruit or vegetables, you often need raised beds or contained areas. If you are tight on outdoor space, this could limit what you are able to grow.
Flower Garden Pros and Cons
Flower gardens are just beautiful. They add instant colour and charisma to any outdoor space, making it more cheery and enjoyable for you and your visitors.
If you use perennials like Geranium Rozanne, your flowers should come back each year. You plant once and enjoy blooms again and again!
Small spaces are okay
You can have a stunning flower garden even if you’re limited on outdoor space. Flowers can make a statement even when planted in small amounts. You can also plant flowers in containers if you’re completely lacking ground space.
The time, cost, and effort put into creating a flower garden is purely for aesthetics. While pretty, you don’t get any food or function from your plants.
Planning while you’re away
Those pretty flowers still need water and care if you’re on holiday or out of town. You’ll have to arrange for a neighbour or friend to stop by and help if you want your beautiful blooms still thriving when you return.
Gardening requires kneeling, bending, carrying, digging and stooping. It can be physically demanding and cause injuries if mobility is already limited.
Why not both?
There are pros and cons to both types of gardening, but Rozanne thinks both are worth the risk and rewards! Planting vegetables and flowers together can be beneficial for the garden and the gardener.
Having flowers integrated into your vegetable garden will help attract bees and encourage better pollination, which means more produce for you to enjoy.
Your garden can include style and function as you enjoy fresh flowers and vegetables throughout your summer!
Show us a picture of your flower or vegetable garden—or the two combined—on Instagram using the #geraniumrozanne. We may even feature your summer garden on our page!
“Without bees stopping by your garden to snack on nectar and swap pollen around, you’re going to have a pretty disappointing crop.”
The benefit goes both ways. Flowers help these struggling populations, too, whose decline have been linked to excessive use of chemicals in agriculture in recent decades, as well as loss of natural habitat. The more places for them to feed and help with pollination, the more secure our entire food production system is.
In an article for Rodale’s, Saska explains how to go about choosing the right flowers for your vegetable patch.
1) Look at the bloom time. You’ll want the flowers to bloom at the same time as the vegetable crop: “If the flowers you planted don’t bloom until two weeks after your peas are done flowering, your peas are out of luck.” But, at the same time you want blooms to happen throughout the whole growing season to help all of your plants, so plant a variety of flowers.
2) Look at the flower shape. Did you know that different shapes attract different pollinators, such as hummingbirds, bees, and beneficial wasps? Saska recommends flowers with a ‘composite’ shape (with petals arranged identically around a center). These could be zinnias, marigolds, cosmos, etc.
3) Think about height. The flowers should not block the sun for the vegetables, so choose low-growing plants. Saska points out, though, that some crops such as lettuce could benefit from a bit more shade at the peak of summer, so a taller flower next to it could be helpful.
4) Choose flowers that repel pests. This piece of advice comes via The Spruce, which admits that studies are inconclusive on this topic, but anecdotal evidence is strong — and you don’t stand to lose anything by having beautiful, colorful flowers in a veggie patch! Some suggestions:
Calendula: repels asparagus beetles and tomato hornworm, can be a trap for aphids
Cosmos: attracts bees and green lacewings, which attack other pests
Lavender: despised by ticks and moths
Marigolds: releases a chemical that kills root nematodes in the soil
Nasturtiums: deter squash bugs and beetles
I just planted the family vegetables yesterday. You name it, I grow it. Steve Zahn (American actor).
Telling northern Minnesota gardeners when to plant, given our capricious climate, is tenuous advice at best and very presumptuous on my part. So, this column is basically an exhortation to seriously consider the local conditions and an admonition to be patient about sowing dates for the vegetable garden.
After a Minnesota winter, during which car batteries and manhood are challenged, and during our yo yo springs, northern Minnesota gardeners lament, “When will real spring come?” Minnesotans who have not migrated south in the winter and labor through an interminable winter take solace in the thought that real spring will eventually come and planting vegetables can begin. The vernal equinox, a date on the calendar, awakens dormant gardening juices, often causing gardeners to sow seeds or put transplants into a hostile cold and damp soil. The result, as any anxious Minnesota gardener has experienced, is a replant, often more than once.
My mother always advised, “Never plant tomatoes before Memorial Day.” She was invariably right. By the time this column is published, conditions should be acceptable for “warm” weather but too late for some “cool” weather plants.
I am reconciled to the fact that several variables go into a planting date, most of them associated with the weather and micro climate. In past years I have faithfully followed the advice in the literature, on seed packages, and from green thumb gardeners but have been “ambushed” on numerous occasions by unseasonable weather. Usually the norm in Minnesota. Also the information that is posted on line is usually for a warmer climate and therefore very “iffy” for northern Minnesota. Therefore any planting date is a moving target but generally the following guidelines and planting dates apply, overlayed with a modicum of common sense.
Starting with the cool season crops. First, obviously, the soil should not be too wet or too dry. When the moisture is right the soil crumbles in your hands. If it is too wet it stays molded into a ball. The planting area can then be tilled or spaded up and raked to level it. If you do this operation in the fall, it could save you some time in the spring. When is the best time in the spring to do this? Obviously it depends on the last snow or rain fall. And as every Minnesota gardener knows, the date can vary from sometime in April until the end of May.
Lets assume the weather has cooperated and all else has gone well. Lets pick an arbitrary date of April 15. The weather has warmed, the soil has dried and the gardener is keen to plant something. A caveat. These suggestions are not etched in stone but are only meant to be guidelines and many experienced gardeners have learned over the years to adjust their own planting schedule.
Asparagus crowns are a satisfying option in that you’re planting something other than a seed. Before you start planting seeds, make sure they are treated with a seed treatment fungicide to prevent “damping off”, a disease caused by soil fungi that grow very well in cool and wet soils. Prepackaged seeds are normally treated with a fungicide but seeds a gardener has saved should be treated with a commercial seed treatment fungicide, available at Bloomers.
Seeds that can be planted at this time, or a little later, are beets, carrots, horse radish, kale, leaf lettuce, onions, onion sets, peas, potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, spinach, and turnips. If one wants to grow horse radish the roots can be planted at this time. However, be aware that horse radish, if left to its own devices, will shortly become a weed and grow over a large area so unwanted plants can be “hacked” out.
Cabbage, brussels sprouts and broccoli can also be planted early but to be on the safe side it would be best to start plants inside sometime in March under grow-lights then transplant seedlings later in May. Seeds of several of these plants can also be planted later in the growing season but normally after the heat of summer has passed.
Later into May, bush, lima, and pole beans can be planted. If the soil temperatures drop, these may have to be replanted. About the middle of May or a little later, cucumbers, parsnips, pumpkin, rhubarb, rutabaga, squash, sweet corn, and watermelon can be planted. By this time soil temperatures should be warmed up but the air temperature may fluctuate several degrees from day to day. Remember, you do live in Minnesota. However, as a solace, warm soil temperatures may buffer any wild swings in air temperature so these seeds may be okay but late in germinating.
Warm season crops need a long growing season and usually will not mature if seeded directly in the garden. The parallel is cool season crops must mature before hot weather. Therefore, if a gardener does not buy these plants at Bloomers they must start crops early inside.
Start warm season crops later than cool season crops. Cool season crops would be those previously mentioned. Warm season crops that must be started inside are peppers, eggplant and tomatoes. Peppers and eggplant tend to germinate very slowly. Make a soil mixture of two parts loam, one part sand, and one part organic matter. Fill transplant tray or peat pots with the mixture and carefully firm the soil. Sow the seed by making a 1/4 to 1/2 inch hole. Cover seeds lightly with sand, screened soil or vermiculite. Gently water and cover with a clear plastic and place in a warm room. When seedlings emerge, remove plastic and appply a tablespoon of starter fertilizer (5-10-5). Keep seedlings in direct sunlight or under a grow light.
Harden transplants by shading for a few days in a lath house or under a shade cloth and slightly withhold water. Water plants well then transplant on a cool, cloudy, windless day. After transplant apply a half cup of the starter fertilizer for each plant.
One lifetime is never enough to accomplish one’s horticultural goals. If a garden is a site for the imagination, how can we be very far from the beginning? Francis Cabot Lowell (19th century American businessman).
Dr. Robert Nyvall can be reached at [email protected]
Midsummer Planting Tips: What To Plant In Midsummer
Many people ask, “how late can you plant vegetables” or even flowers in the garden. Keep reading to learn more about midsummer planting and what plants perform better during this time.
Midsummer Planting Tips
There are many vegetables and flowers that you can plant mid-summer – even in northern or mountain states such as Minnesota and Colorado. The most important things you need to know for planting in midsummer are:
- your local average light frost date (33-38 F. or .5 to 3 C.)
- your local average killing frost date (28-32 F. or -2 to 0 C.)
- cold hardiness of the plants you are installing
- amount of time it takes for each vegetable or flowering plant to reach maturity
With these facts in hand, you can calculate whether it is worth it to fit in a second harvest or whether you should let the garden rest until winter.
Some plants stop growing and die with just a light frost whereas others can keep going until it gets really cold. Certain vegetables even overwinter in the garden. How late you can plant vegetables depends on where you live, which vegetable you choose, and the current date.
For example, bush beans take 45-60 days to mature but they are killed by light frost. If your average frost date is October 1, you better plant your bush beans by July 1. That is pushing it a bit too. In this case, I’d say that bush beans are a slightly risky option for planting in midsummer.
What to Plant in Midsummer
Planting in midsummer is an adventure. You are giving the growing season that extra squeeze. There are a number of vegetables that do well later in the season.
Greens are some of the easiest plants to start midsummer. You can harvest them before full maturity when the leaves are still small and sweet.
- Kale and collard greens take 40-60 days to mature and are very hardy down to 20 F. (-6 C.). In warmer areas, kale and collard greens will live through the winter.
- Swiss chard and leaf lettuces (40-60 days) will survive a light frost but nothing colder.
- Mustard greens and spinach take 30-45 days to mature and can survive light frosts too.
Midsummer planting tips for many root vegetables are based on the fact that they take close to two months to mature and they are partially protected by growing their edible parts underground in the soil. Beets, kohlrabi and radishes all can take light frosts. Parsnips take 4 months to mature and can withstand multiple frosts. Parsnips can be overwintered if the soil doesn’t completely freeze, so cover them with a thick layer of mulch.
Cabbage matures in about 3 months and is one of the hardiest veggies, withstanding 20 F. (-6 C.).
Many herbs, like basil, are is actually hot weather crops and not recommended for midsummer planting. Regarding flowers, look for midsummer sales at your local nurseries and purchase lovely annuals and perennials for a reduced price. Remember to trim and deadhead all your annuals to keep them fresh and to encourage repeat blooming. Flowers that particularly benefit from deadheading are:
I hope these midsummer planting tips encourage you to revitalize your garden and maximize your growing season. Be creative. Try new plants you haven’t experienced in the past. Do your homework regarding plant maturity and frost dates. Enjoy your second crops and blooms!
If you are looking to create a fall vegetable garden, summertime is the right time to get planting!
As we head into mid-July and early August, many gardens are overflowing with a bounty of fresh crops.
From tomatoes, peppers, green beans and corn, to greens and more, the harvest can sometimes seem never-ending.
And with all of that fresh produce, the last thing on the minds of gardeners is planting more seeds.
With so much to harvest in the summer, many gardeners forget to plant again for a fall harvest.
But unfortunately, most of those wondrous summertime crops won’t stick around till fall. And without an additional mid-summer planting, you’ll be left with a sparse fall garden, and little fresh produce.
But with just a little effort, you can keep that garden going and create a perfect fall vegetable garden.
The Advantages Of Summer Planting
Planting new seeds and crops in the middle of summer has a lot of built in advantages.
For one, there are no worries of cold nights or killing frosts. And the warm soil is perfect for germinating seeds quickly and efficiently.
Vegetable seeds are quick to germinate in the warm summer soil.
In addition, the warm, humid days and nights provide the perfect medium for quick growth.
So quick in fact, it’s easy to grow and harvest a complete second crop for many vegetable plants as fall arrives.
Creating A Fall Vegetable Garden – How & What To Plant
It is important to realize there are a few crops that are nearly impossible to grow for a second crop.
Included in that list are tomatoes, peppers, and corn. With 80 to 90 days of needed time to mature and fruit, there simply aren’t enough days left in the growing season to allow the crops to ripen.
But with that said, there are still plenty of crops that you can plant again to create a wonderful fall vegetable garden.
Below is a quick list of crops to plant, along with a few key tips for summer seed planting.
Start By Recharging The Soil
Before planting any additional crops, it’s important to add a little energy back into your soil.
Compost, whether home-made or purchased is a great way to recharge your soil for re-planting a summer crop.
Spring crops use quite a bit of the soil’s energy to grow and mature, and a quick recharge of the soil will help your fall crops reach their full potential.
The easiest way to do this is to add in generous amounts of compost to your seed rows as you plant. Simply layer in an inch or so of compost into each planting row as you go.
Great Crops To Plant For A Fall Vegetable Garde
Bush beans make for a great second planting crop in the summer. Some varieties, like Bush Blue Lake beans can mature in as little as 55 days.
Green beans and peas actually improve the soil where they are grown.
Most spring planted bean crops are complete by mid-July. Simply pull out and replant with a new seeding for a fall vegetable garden harvest.
Cucumber seeds germinate fast in the warm summer soil. And by choosing a quick maturing variety, you can have a second crop of cucumbers coming on in 60 days or less.
Cucumbers require a lot of water, so it is important to keep them watered well through the heat of late summer days.
Leaf lettuce crops are among the fastest growers of all in a garden. Many varieties of lettuce can go from seed to harvest in just three to four weeks.
Sow a row of seeds every few weeks through the summer weeks to keep a fresh crop coming on into late fall.
Kale / Spinach
Both spinach and kale prefer growing in the cooler fall weather. In fact, the cooler weather actually improves their flavor.
Sow a row every few weeks from late summer until the first week or two of September to enjoy fresh eating right up until October.
Radishes, like leaf lettuce, are a super fast seed-to-harvest vegetable.
With varieties that can mature in as little as four weeks, they can planted every few weeks in mid-summer to keep a fresh supply on hand.
Radish seeds will not germinate without water, so be sure to supply plenty after planting and while they mature.
Sugar Snap Peas
Summertime is the perfect time to plant a second round of sugar snap peas. Peas love cool weather, and by planting in July & August, they will mature as the cool weather sets in.
Here is to planting this summer for a great fall vegetable garden!
This Is My Garden
Second Season Sowing: Mid-Summer Planting for Fall Harvests
Many gardeners start a garden by starting seeds indoors in late winter and planting in the spring and early summer. Gardening for many ends after one planting that hopefully survives the summer and allows for a moderate harvest. If the plants have avoided being eaten by bugs, deer or rabbits by the Fourth of July it can be considered a success. But did you know you can get a second season of sowing with mid-summer planting for fall harvests?
What is second season sowing?
That you can sow a second season of plants in the middle of summer may only come as a surprise to northern gardeners. For our gardening buddies in warmer zones, this is apparently how they and their plants cope with the summer heat. They take a break in the middle of summer and plant again toward the end of the season when temperatures are cooler.
Second season sowing describes the act of sowing another round of seeds in the middle of summer to be harvested in fall. Because of the heat outdoors this time of year, seeds may be started indoors and transplanted out after they are established. But seeds can also be directly sown in the soil outdoors.
When to plant a second crop of seeds for fall harvest.
In mid-June you can start seeds like storage cabbage, collards, fennel, kale, rutabaga, broccoli and cauliflower indoors. Outdoors you can plant a Three Sisters Garden consisting of a corn, beans and squash at the same time.
Early to mid-July, you can direct sow fennel, dry beans and fall brassica crops. You can also do another round of some annuals like sunflowers, zinnias, nigellas, calendula and cosmos to brighten up the garden and provide some forage for pollinators.
By mid-July, transplant out the seeds you started indoors in mid-June. Remember that the summer sun is a lot more intense than the spring, sun so make sure to harden off your seedlings. Give them a good soaking to establish them, and keep an eye on them so they don’t dry out. If possible, add some shade cloth to provide some relief from the intense midday sun.
Early to mid-August you can sow seeds for carrots, beets, scallions, turnips, lettuce greens, bok choy, broccoli rabe, spinach, Swiss chard, peas and other fall favorites.
In the post on frugal gardening tips , I mentioned that late summer was a good time to hunt for deals at your local garden centers. If you are not into growing vegetables and herbs, the end of the season is a great time to plant perennials, biennials, trees and shrubs. They are sometimes drastically reduced in price, which means you can plant more than you could have afforded to buy in the spring.
Second season sowing is a great way to extend your garden season. It is also a do-over for gardeners who let their garden go early in the season because life got in the way. Make sure that any seedlings you transplant get enough water and fertilizer and protection from the sun before they become established. If you direct sow seeds, it would be a good idea to bury them a little deeper than you would in the spring. The top layer of soil can quickly dry out in this heat and kill you sprouting seeds.
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