Seed starting doesn’t have to be confined to being a springtime activity in cooler climates; there are many vegetables and flowers you can plant in the summer for a late summer/early fall harvest. Summer sowing is a great way to ensure that your garden continues to thrive as long as possible, so grab some seed packets and get to work! These timelines work well for those in Zones 4-8, but you can certainly extend the season in colder climates with a variety of DIY ideas, or cool things down in warmer temps using shade cloth.
You’ve probably noticed how much I love edible flowers. There are so many reasons to love them. Not the least of which is that you can grow edible flowers throughout most of the year! From late winter to fall, there are plenty of edible flower seeds to start, so add a few to your summer sowing roster. The following seeds take well to July sowing and can all be found in the Garden Therapy Edible Flower Garden Kit.
Jewel Nasturtium Mix
These nasturtium come in a variety of vibrant hues of oranges, yellow, and reds that will decorate the garden well into the fall if sown in the summer. Both the flowers and the leaves can be eaten and have a sharp, peppery taste that adds some zip to salads and other savory dishes. For best results, sow seeds directly into warm soil, thinning as needed. Cover seeds with soil as darkness is needed for germination, and keep the top layer moist. Plant now and you should have flowers to harvestwithin 4-6 weeks.
Zucchini Elite Squash Blossoms
Of course you can harvest the zucchini squash in just 48 days, but I personally love to eat the flowers which will bloom a lot sooner! You can stuff them with a savory filling and fry them for an out-of-this world dish from the garden. Sow seed directly into thoroughly prepared, warm soil. Keep somewhat moist to encourage germination. Try growing squash in hills, sowing 5 – 6 seeds per hill, and thinning to 3 strong plants later. Space the hills in a square pattern.
Cool Wave® Mix Pansy & Penny™ All Seasons Mix Viola
Pansies & violas are very hardy and will blossom like crazy during cooler weather, so these are the perfect choice for summer sowing. You’ll have a ton of cheery blooms gracing your fall garden, and you can harvest them to use as pretty (and tasty!) cupcake toppers. For best results, sow the seed indoors into a sterile soil mix, lightly covering the seed. Keep moderately moist and transplant to well-drained garden soil in a partial to full sun location.
These plants have a bit of extra fun and whimsy about them—perfect for getting kids interested in gardening during their summer vacation. Of course, I don’t know any grown-ups who wouldn’t love to grow these either! These seeds all come in the Garden Therapy Kids’ Garden Kit.
Dragon’s Tongue Bush Beans
These colorful beans have a fun name and will change color from bright lime green to yellow with purple stripes. Plus, they taste delicious. Sow directly outdoors in full sun and in warm soil, avoiding areas planted with beans last year to reduce disease pressure. They will be ready to harvest about 60 days after sowing so plant today and you’ll be eating then in just two months.
These sweet-tasting carrots are small and ball-shaped, which is pretty much the cutest thing in the world. They can also grow in places where other carrots won’t, such as clay or rocky soil and take well to summer sowing. Plant the seeds directly into warm, loose, deep soil. Plants require full sun and adequate moisture. Water deeply as needed and they will be ready in just 55 days.
Baby Bottle Gourds
These little bottle-shaped gourds are a ton of fun to paint and use as fall and winter decorations! They take about 110 days from planting to harvest, so if you sow the seeds now you’ll have them just in time for autumn crafting. Plant in prepared, warm soil directly in the garden. Baby Bottle Gourds require full sun and moderate moisture. You can plant them in single rows or hills. When sowing in hills, plant 4 – 5 seeds per hill, spacing 6 – 8 feet apart.
Edible plants that look great in the garden are one of my favorite things. Sow these seeds now for an attractive and edible garden in the late summer. All of these edible ornamentals (and more) are included in the Garden Therapy Ornamental Edibles Garden Kit.
This pretty green lettuce with splashes of red on the leaves looks gorgeous in a planter or in the garden. It has a buttery taste and adds color to summer salads. Sow directly outdoors (either in the garden or in a container)in late July. Needs sunlight for germination. Water and leave seed uncovered for 1 day, then cover lightly with ¼ – ½” of soil. Harvest and eat it in just 48 days!
Red Velvet Lettuce
This deep red lettuce will bring some dramatic color to the fall garden, and looks beautiful planted amongst flowers. Mix the leaves with Speckled lettuce for a gorgeous salad. Follow the same planting instructions as for the Speckled lettuce (perhaps you’ll plant a pretty container with both of them?).
Rainbow Swiss Chard Blend
You’ll want to eat this yummy leafy green, but you’ll be sorry to harvest it because it looks so beautiful in the garden. Dark leafy greens grow off brightly colored stems in reds, pinks, and yellows. Rainbow chard thrives in containers or garden beds and add a pop of color to wherever you choose to plant it—it looks equally at home amongst vegetables or flowers!
Sow seed directly outdoors in July for fall harvest. Water moderately. Thin to spacing when plants are small in the first 3 weeks. Harvest outer stems about 1” from the ground. The plants will continue to grow additional stems from the center as you harvest them.
These veggies all have an extra punch of nutritional value, making them even healthier than regular garden vegetables (which is pretty darn healthy!). You can find these and more superfood seeds in the Garden Therapy Superfoods Garden Kit.
Note: all of these will have the baby leaves ready in 30-35 days and the mature leaves or root ready for harvest in 58-63 days.
I love love love kale. Seriously. Kale chips are my favorite snack. Lacinato kale is packed full of even more vitamins than other kale varieties, and it grows well during the colder seasons so it’s the perfect crop to sow now and eat in the early fall. Plant directly outdoors in prepared soil by the end of July. Harvest in just 30 days for tender baby leaves, or 60 days for mature kale.
Rhubarb Swiss Chard
These dark green leaves with deep red stems are attractive, delicious, and chock-full of extra nutrients! Eat both the stems and the leaves as they are both packed with nutritional value. Sow seed directly outdoors in July for fall harvest. Water moderately. Thin to spacing when plants are small in the first 3 weeks. Harvest outer stems about 1” from the ground. The plants will continue to grow additional stems from the center as you harvest them.
Bull’s Blood Beets
I love these beets for both the tender greens and the hearty roots. Sow seed directly into thoroughly prepared soil outdoors. Water moderately. As the first true leaves emerge, thin to 10 plants per foot. Thin again to 4 – 5 plants per foot when the greens are large enough to harvest. The baby greens will be ready to eat 35 days after sowing, or wait about 58 days for the roots to mature.
Read More About Seed Starting
Of course, there are many more plants that you can start in the summer for a fall harvest. This list comes from what I am growing in my garden this year. You can read more about my theme gardens and the Garden Therapy Seed Collections for more details. Each collection also comes with a very thorough Seed Starting and Culture Guide. You can download them as PDFs in the shop listing for each kit.
- Plant an All-Season Edible Flower Garden with this All-in-One Kit
- Grow Your Way to a Healthier Life with a Superfoods Garden
- Super Cool Edible Plants for a Fun and Educational Kids’ Vegetable Garden
- Ornamental Edibles: Grow an Artful Potager Vegetable Garden – You Can Eat!
- Attract Butterflies, Bees, and Hummingbirds with a Small-Space Patio Pollinator Garden
- The Natural Beauty Seed Collection: Grow a DIY Plant-Based Skincare Garden
- Jar-to-Table Gardening: Grow Your Own Spicy, Sweet, and Crispy Sprouts
- Say Goodbye to the Winter Blues with a DIY Window Herb Garden