To grow your own food in a raised bed gardens requires good planning and consistent tending throughout the growing season. To make things easier and quicker, here’s a checklist on what to do in the raised bed garden in the summer – July, August, September. FYI, this is the third post in our series of raised bed gardens through the year.
Find Your Raised Bed Garden Zone
The frantic pressure of spring planting is gone and the harvest is just around the corner. Raised bed gardens can dehydrate quickly in the summer months, though, so keep your eye on them. A regular watering schedule and lots of mulch can help keep your raised bed garden producing through the summer.
Always bear in mind that I live in zone 5, the middle of the garden zones. If you live in a colder zone, add a few weeks to each of these suggestions; if you live in a warmer zone, subtract a few. There’s a quick course you can take from Angi at Schneider Peeps on understanding your growing zone, if you’re new to gardening. It’s really important to “get it” when it comes to your growing zone. Check it out below:
The best book I’ve found for helping me plan my garden year round and for where I live is The Week by Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook. You can find it used online at Thrift Books.com.
Raise Bed Gardens Summer Checklist
- Make another sowing of cilantro, carrots, green beans, beet, turnip, Chinese cabbage and leaf lettuce in your raised bed gardens– watch for areas of the garden that open up as you harvest.
- Plant a warm season cover crop in unused area of garden – as you rotate crops, leave some areas fallow to rest and be fed
- Transplant Brussels sprout seedlings
- Mulch tomatoes, melons, pumpkin, squash with straw
- Fertilize garlic with some kind of nitrogen
- Hill leeks
- Harvest zukes/summer squash, shell peas, herbs, Brassicas, new potatoes, green beans
- Nip off side shoots and base shoots of tomato plants; nip off tops of indeterminate plants to slow upward growth
- Continue to harvest basil and other herbs and dry for the winter months. Many herbs can be grown in pots as detailed in our user-friendly potted herb-growing book, The Potted Herb. Check it out below!
A note on seed saving
If you’re new to the idea of saving your own seed, maybe this is your year to give it a go!
Remember, aim small/miss small; pick on or two plants from which to save seed your first year.
Try your hand at radishes (will cross pollinate) and/or beans (are self pollinating), both of which politely mature their seed in tight pods that only need to brown on the plant to tell you they’re ready to harvest for seed. Leeks are an easy seed save and so is lettuce. Tomatoes seeds are very fun, especially if you like science experiments.
- Side dress long season crops in the raised bed gardens with high nitrogen fertilizer – corn, tomato, pepper, eggplant, winter squash
- Sow cover crop of winter rye, oats and/or buckwheat in vacant spaces; turn under pea vines after harvest
- Sow kale for late season crop
- Keep harvesting herbs to promote quality growth
- Put a flower pot or board under your ripening melons to prevent rot on the ground
- Pinch new blossoms off of winter squash, melons to ripen what is already on vine
- As garlic tops begin to brown and die, dig up carefully and label; select best bulbs for replanting this fall
- Dill, cilantro, parsley, fennel will most likely self sow – allow some seed to fall to ground
- Harvest onions as tops die back
- Dig, divide and replant mint and oregano
Tired of Canning Tomatoes?
Consider dehydrating the bulk of your tomato crop if you use a lot of it to make tomato sauces, soups and pastes.
Dehydrate any and all types of tomatoes and store in dry, cool place until needed.
Grind tomatoes in good blender or food processor until powdered.
For paste, use 1 part powdered tomato to 1 part filtered water.
For sauce, use 1 part powdered tomato to 3 parts filtered water.
For a great book on dehydrating the summer harvest, check out Shelle Wells of Rockin W Homestead’s Prepper’s Dehydrator Handbook.
- Cut up spent corn stalks or feed to livestock – in fact, start pulling all plants that are dead or dying to help control bad garden bugs for next season
- Start a late season crop of radish
- Begin to pull finished tomatoes and eggplants, pinch off late season blossoms
- Harvest potatoes after tops have died down
- Harvest winter squash as soon as ripe and cure for a few weeks in warm location; pull vines and compost
- Pull weeds before they go to seed
- Try your hand at saving tomato seed – great experiment for the kiddos
- Test soil to locate weak areas that need your attention before frost comes
- Start planning out your fall garden by looking at what seeds you’ll need
- Look for ripening melons!
- Plant your garlic, one clove at a time, as weather cools
- Start pulling up stakes, cleaning window boxes and equipment
Need to keep track of all these great plans for raised bed gardens but aren’t sure how? May I suggest a little organization goes a long way. Try the always handy Gardening Notebook by Angi Schneider. I always think I’m going to remember what I’ve planted and planned in the garden but, alas, half the time my notes and maps end up at the mercy of the toddler, the free ranging chickens or the elements. The Gardening Notebook can help you and me get better organized for this year and next!
Our last installment on raised bed gardens in this series will cover October, November and December. Yes, there’s work to be done in those months, too. Never a dull moment when your grow your own food!