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Mid-Summer Garden Planting

Knowing what to plant in your garden this summer is a great first step in extending your growing season! Did you know that places located closer to the equator have more than one growing season during the summer? That’s right, season’s aren’t the same everywhere.

Starting Seeds Indoors vs. Directly Seeding

Some plants have such delicate root systems that starting them in their non-permanent planting spots can really impact the health and productivity of your plants. We learned at an organic gardening class (at a local farm-to-table restaurant called Season’s Harvest) that just about all squash variety plants are one of those plants that really should be planted directly in the ground. I’m opting to start some indoors anyways to speed up the growing season and have a little more control, but plan to be super careful.

The Arbor Gate has a fantastic and FREE Vegetable Planting Calendar for Harris County that shows you exactly what and when to plant. If you’re local and haven’t been, Arbor Gate is a must visit! All of their plants are un-sprayed or certified organic. Plan to spend some time, and bring lots of water and your wallet! It’s hard to stay in budget when there are so many wonderful plants, supplies, and a full gift shop.

Anyways, make sure to do a little bit of research on whether you should plant your seeds directly into the ground or start them inside for your summer garden.

Starting Summer Garden Seeds Indoors

What you do may not look the same as what I do, and that’s okay! This is just an idea of what someone else is doing to get you inspired to start yourself. If you are starting seeds indoors, be sure to purchase some organic seedling soil. This soil will be finer in texture to allow for the baby plants to move easier and establish their roots.

This is the seedling soil I grabbed from Home Depot. I also chose these seed starting strips to make it easier for me. They are both located just inside the garden center near the seed stands. I also hand drilled little holes in the bottom of each pot in the strip to allow roots to come through. This will help the plant transplant better by allowing the roots to move down freely as opposed to wrapping themselves around at the bottom. I’m using cookie cooling sheets to set these on while the seedlings grow.

Seedlings I’m Starting Mid-Summer:

  • Tomatoes: Roma, Moneymaker, Beefsteak, and Sweet Cherry
  • Collards
  • Swiss chard
  • California orange bell pepper
  • Zucchini: black beauty and emerald green
  • Winter squashes: acorn, butternut, and honeynut
  • Canteloupe
  • Watermelon: sugar baby
  • Spinach: Malabar (I bought established seedlings from Arbor Gate because they had them)

Directly Seeding Outdoors

Our soil has improved greatly since adding about 30% topsoil this past spring. Check your soil and confirm it’s in fortified condition to plant. I have a bit of work on my hands to treat my soil before planting for my summer garden. We’ve had ants, squash vine borers (the reason I’m having to plant new summer squash plants at all, ugh), weeds, and I need to also do some additional tilling to better mix in the top soil. In addition to all of that, we need to re-fertilize with organic fertilizer to give the soil some boost, and I’ll be adding some worm castings as well. We have raised garden beds that I’m glad we went with. The raised beds have been helpful because of the abundance of rain we’ve had in Houston this year.

There’s likely some work you’ll want to do in your garden before planting, too. Spend some time and call someone over to help if you’re unsure about something! (Feel free to post your questions below as well, happy to help if I can!)

Direct Seeds I’m Planting Mid-Summer:

  • Pumpkins: sugar pies, howden, big max, and white lumia
  • Lettuce: salad varieties, red romaine, and butter
  • Chives
  • Bunching onions
  • Sweet Corn

Flowers for Your Summer Garden

I have had a blast having my first flower garden in our front yard, but now I’m ready to add some more floral notes in our backyard as well. I feel a bit less overwhelmed by adding them to the vegetable garden now that I’ve had some successful experience, and am excited to mix it up a bit!

Flowers can bring beneficial bugs to your organic garden, and they sure are beautiful!

Flowers I’m Plantings Mid-Summer:

  • Sunflowers: many varieties! (Keep planting these all through September!)
  • Larkspurs
  • Cosmos
  • Cypress vine
  • Moonflower vine

All of the flowers I’m planting will be directly seeded with the exception of the Mexican sunflower variety which is recommended to start indoors.

Encouragement for You

Listen, I don’t know much but I’ve learned more than I ever could from someone else by just going for it. Making mistakes is going to happen with gardening, probably forever. But, the good news is every mistake is an opportunity for learning valuable lessons. You likely won’t make the same mistake twice, and you learn to be grateful for each harvest as it increases with experience and time.

The enjoyment from getting my hands dirty and cultivating growth in the hot sun is unlike anything else. The smell of a fresh bell pepper from your garden is beyond refreshing. Having fresh tomatoes on hand for various needs is worth every step of the way.

I hope if you’re feeling overwhelmed like I often do, that you’ll start just by researching what fresh garden herbs you can begin growing in your area this fall. Just having fresh basil is enough to get you inspired for more. From there you can just add little by little and before you know it, you’ll be swimming in a garden of freshness!

If You’re Just Starting Out

If you’re more of the “all or nothing” type like I am, then I’m sure you have the list above all written down already and are working on figuring it all out. Take it from me, and try to reduce your list by 50% (I know it’s hard, I serioulsy know). Unless you have all the time in the world, you’re planning on way too much if you’re anything like me. Your garden will have a lot more success starting out if you start smaller and focus more on keeping only the necessities alive.

I’m so excited to see what you’ll do with your garden this summer, please let me know in the comments what you’re planting and where you’re located! Happy planting!

mid-summer garden
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Backyard Garden Fall Planning and Planting

If there’s anything that 2020 has caused an increase in within our family, it’s making our home more sustainable. Starting a backyard garden became a high priority when food shortages were on the radar. After realizing just how hard they work, I feel a much deeper sense of gratefulness to farmers. When I considered what our backyard garden fall planning might look like, I knew I wanted to do it right.

Our spring garden this year was almost a complete failure. We ended up with a handful of “cherry” tomatoes (I say that with quotations because they weren’t supposed to be tiny) and one itty-bitty strawberry. A lack of planning, planting too late in the season, planting the wrong plants for our region at the wrong time, and not having the right soil were all the main culprits.

Fall Garden Planning

bakyard garden plans

Planning is something I am quite good at. However, being that I was only 3-4 months postpartum and trying to get a raised garden bed up from scratch, I put some things on the back-burner. Plans were not in the cards for me.

I was also super overwhelmed. I had a lot to consider when trying to plant things in a relatively small space. Companion planting can be especially overwhelming, and I didn’t think I could ruin too much if we just went for it without a plan. (If you know me well, this is so not like me, hah!) The lack of planning wasn’t so bad, but planting too late in the spring season and planting many of the wrong items was a deal-breaker. We definitely didn’t reap what we sowed.

Fall plans were going to be different, if I could help it. I spent an entire day making the plans for exactly what, where, and how many plants would go in each area of our fall garden. I researched companion planting, being careful to keep certain things away from others that don’t do well together. Then, I put my planning skills to the complete test with a dotted spread sheet.

backyard garden plans

Plans Might Change, That is Okay

Not everything went according to the plans I made. However, I learned something important while training as a birth and postpartum doula that comes to mind:

Having a plan doesn’t mean it is expected that everything will go accordingly. Instead, it is a means of learning what is to be expected. Planning helps us to gain options that we wouldn’t otherwise have.

Author Unknown

This quote is well-suited for garden planning, too, it turns out! Having a plan doesn’t mean things have to go exactly as laid out. Life wouldn’t be very interesting if that were the case, would it? A full day of planning resulted in a lot of clarity and hope! I carefully carried my plan to our favorite local nursery when I was ready to purchase seeds and seedlings. I was able to avoid overspending and have another set of experienced eyes at The Arbor Gate to let me know I was on the right track!

Know When and What to Plant in Your Garden

backyard garden fall planting

Gardening rules are not one-size-fits-all. Nature is inevitably something that demands it be respected. If you have ever just “winged” it like we did, you might have experienced the same kind of disappointment we did.

Depending on what region you live, there are different growing seasons. Some places can accommodate year-round growing, and others need a lot more preparations to make that work. Here in the Houston area, we have been blessed with the ability to have both a summer and winter garden. You can read more about planting zones and find out what zone you are in by clicking here. If you’re local, The Arbor Gate also provides a downloadable Planting Zone specific to Harris County. I specifically followed this (loosely) while making my fall garden plans. From the advice of a few of the experienced gardeners there, I pushed back the dates due to the intense heat sticking around longer than anticipated. If I planted too soon, I could risk all of my baby plants burning up in the heat.

I also realized that many of the plants I randomly planted in very late spring were planted in the WRONG season entirely! It’s important to realize that kale is simply not going to tolerate heat and humidity. But, it will grow happily in a winter garden. My hopes and dreams of kale salad would have to wait. This encouraged me to get to work on our backyard garden fall planning.

Choose the Right Soil for Your Garden

backyard garden fall planning

We initially chose a raised garden bed organic soil to fill our raised beds with. Sadly, it didn’t seem to sustain our plants very well. I’ve since learned that many soils contain Peat. Not only is it bad for the ecosystems its removed from, it also causes a packing effect within the soil. Drainage becomes an issue, and it is completely unnecessary to grow plants.

After learning this, we chose to skip the typical bagged options from the store. This time, we chose a Peat-free organic bulk option from The Arbor Gate. So far our plants seem happy with the extra boost!

It was important to us to choose organic for a multitude of reasons. The main reason for this is to avoid the toxic pesticides added to our food products. We definitely did not want to put our organic seeds and seedlings in non-organic soil.

Fall Garden Planting List

backyard garden fall planning

Ready to find out what we’re growing in our fall garden this year? Here it is!

Left Box:

  • parsley
  • kale – three varieties
  • broccoli – two varieties
  • golden potatoes (still need to plant)
  • artichokes (replanting seedlings elsewhere once large enough)
  • peppers – three non-spicy varieties
  • basil (leftover from summer garden)

Right Box:

  • strawberries (leftover from summer garden)
  • carrots – three varieties
  • spinach
  • lettuce – two varieties
  • brussel sprouts – two varieties
  • cauliflower
  • red potatoes
  • romanesco
  • cabbage – three varieties
  • swiss chard
  • beets – variety
  • garlic chives
  • bunching onions

Separate From Raised Beds:

  • mullein
  • elder berry
  • fig
  • meyer lemon
  • fennel – two varieties
  • sage
  • rosemary
  • mint
  • lavender
  • geranium

Just Do It

backyard garden

It might seem daunting, and it’s definitely a lot of work, but it’s been worth every effort. Hopefully it will also be worth every penny when we have a thriving winter garden. I certainly hope that’s what happens!

Making plans and checking out specific details about your local area can certainly help make a successful garden. The learning process along the way is going to happen no matter how you start. If a garden is something you’re envisioning, I say just go for it.

I hope this overview of our backyard garden fall planning and planting has helped to inspire you to begin a garden of your own. Even if it’s simply a collection of potted herbs, that can be an exciting way to start. It’s a wonderful and affordable start if you’re looking for an easy way to save money on store-bought herbs!

backyard garden mullein