Can I Still Plant Vegetables in July?

Snow in the garden.Sorry, I don’t have any pics of an early Fall snowfall. This is the opposite, an early April snowfall from last Spring. Now back to the question… Is it too late to plant vegetables in July? The short answer is “no”. It just depends on what you want to grow. Here in Central NY, zone 5, our first frost date is considered to be October 13th. That is 96 days from today, give or take…

Mother Nature can be very generous and forgiving, and then sometimes she seems unforgiving or just down right miserable. October 13 is only 18 days before Halloween. I can remember warm evenings taking my boys trick or treating in just their cute little costumes, and I also remember pulling them over snow drifts in a sled, all bundled up like it was mid-winter! Whatever you choose to plant, make sure it is a short season crop, and being cold-hardy could be a big help.

The list of plants below are all started from seed. They should all grow to maturity within the 96 day window of opportunity. When choosing seeds now, look for the faster maturing varieties. Check the “days to harvest” on the seed packet and add in the “days to sprout” or “seedlings emerge in this number of days”. The harvest date is based from when the seeds sprout. If something takes 21 days to sprout, and is ready to harvest in 90 days, you are now three weeks past the window.

So, what is safe to plant, you ask?

The vegetables below are color coded. Those in red can withstand temperatures dipping down to 25°, or a light freeze. Those in purple can take a light frost, or down to about 30°. The rest would need to be covered in case of an unexpected dip in temperatures. Sometimes a night or two of frosts can be followed be a week or so of warmer weather, so if you can protect them, you get a little more growth and a larger harvest. Old bed sheets or blankets, cardboard boxes or old curtains can be used. The whole object of this is to insulate the plants from the cold. Be sure to put some stakes or other supports around your plants so the weight of the protective cover doesn’t end up breaking your plant’s stems.

  • Beets
  • Beans
  • Bok Choi
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Collard Greens
  • Carrots
  • Corn, early varieties
  • Cucumbers
  • Green Onions
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leaf Lettuce
  • Mustard Greens
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard
  • Turnips

The hardest part is finding the seeds…

I have a decent stockpile of seeds. I save extra seed from year to year with most germinating well, even 2 year old seed usually does just fine. After the woodchucks ate my squash plants, however, I was completely out of one of those varieties and I wanted more. Every store I checked on July 1st was out! Not just out of the squash, but the displays were even gone! Most seed companies have a “return by” date, so that stores can return them and get credit for unsold seeds. I think July 1st is jumping the gun a bit. So, if you don’t have a stockpile, you will probably have to order online. Call the seed company first to see how quickly they can ship. You don’t want to end up waiting an additional few weeks to start planting…the window is slowly closing.

This weekend, so far, after harvesting all the cabbage, kohlrabi, broccoli raab, bok choi and spinach, I replanted those areas. Always follow one family of vegetables with a different one! For instance, don’t plant something in the cabbage family in a spot where you just harvested something in the cabbage family, etc. I planted yellow bush beans, Italian green beans, sunflowers, cucumbers and carrots, so I’m good there.

My lettuce is starting to bolt, so I think that will be pulled today and replaced with more beets for another fall harvest. I recently re-planted corn, squash and pole beans that the woodchucks ate. Hopefully, the new smaller gauge fencing and copious amounts of cayenne powder will prevent more munching…



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