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Plant now, harvest later: Why the growing season is far from over


This broccoli look-alike is a turnip relative that hates hot weather, which causes it to bolt (produce flowers and seed before it matures). After sowing in midsummer, it will mature during the cool days of autumn. Rich in vitamins and minerals, use rapini in stir-fry recipes or sauté with garlic and olive oil and add to pasta with a squeeze of lemon.

Vegetable gardening season doesn't have to start in a frenzy on the May long weekend and end on Labour Day. While the planting season has already passed for tomatoes and peppers, there are many edibles that do well when sown midsummer. You can get second crops of cool-season vegetables such as lettuce in the ground in early spring, but some do better if started midsummer rather than earlier in the season. It's a great way to extend the growing season.

"Planting now means you can harvest later," says Steven Biggs, Canadian co-author of No Guff Vegetable Gardening.

Biggs is big on easy gardening, and one of the simplest ways to plant a midseason crop of vegetables is to take advantage of bare spots left in the garden where, for example, bush beans and garlic have already been harvested. "You can sow some rapini seeds now when there's enough warmth and sun for seeds to come up quickly," he says. Within a month you can harvest the florets.

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Tomato plants offer another spot to sow a fall crop. At this time of year, tomatoes are staked and most of their growth is at the top, which can leave their stems bare at the bottom. "Scatter some lettuce or radicchio seeds underneath the tomato plants," Biggs suggests.

Whatever you sow at this time of year, be prepared to water. "Keep the seed bed on the moist side until the seeds start to germinate," he advises. "And be on the lookout for weeds." Weeds will compete with crops for water and nutrients, so weeding is especially important when seedlings are getting established. Biggs doesn't add fertilizers to midseason crops, relying instead on the compost applied in early spring that is usually enough to enrich the soil all season. Root vegetables such as beets, turnips and rutabagas need room to grow. Thin out seedlings by plucking some of them to leave space for the roots of the remaining seedlings to develop. Here are seven vegetables you can plant now and eat as they mature and ripen from later summer into fall.

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