August isn’t considered prime seed sowing times, but you can still plant certain vegetables and expect a nice harvest before Fall. The following five vegetables will mature in 60 days or less, which is perfect for this time of year. Those of us in Zones 4 and 5 usually have until at least September before being hit by a heavy frost. Other areas have even longer to grow vegetables. Make the most of the garden season by adding these five vegetables!
To get the most out of these late summer sowings be sure to prepare the soil before planting. If you pulled up a vegetable that was already harvested this season, such as peas, the soil should be amended with compost or composted manure. You’ll find good suggestions for amending soil here.
Little Finger Baby Carrot Seeds (Daucus carota sativus): This delicious three inch carrot will mature in about 57 days. It was developed for canning and pickling, but the sweet flavor makes it perfect for snacks and dipping.
With this variety of carrot it’s important to harvest it after the bright orange color has developed and it’s three inches long or less. This plant can withstand light frost, and as happens with many root crops, it actually sweetens the carrot.
Sow the tiny carrot seeds 1/4 inch deep, and cover with fine soil free of rocks. Don’t tamp down the soil over the seeds, but instead leave it loose. Water gently, and keep moistened until the seedlings sprout.
Rapini Broccoli Raab (Brassica rapa) is considered a type of mustard green by cooks, and looks a little like undeveloped broccoli with similar leaves and buds. Despite the name, it’s not a type of broccoli but is closely related to turnips. It’s known by many names including: raab, rapa, rapine, rappi, rappone, taitcat, Italian or Chinese broccoli, and Italian turnip.
Rapini matures in about 45 days just before the flowers open. The shoots, stems and buds are edible can used widely in Italian and Chinese cooking. Try the tender shoots in salads and use any of the plant in stir fry dishes.
Sow the seeds about an 1/8 inch deep, covering lightly. Temperatures around 75 degrees will encourage germination in about a week.
The greens can be harvested when small and tender before the flower buds begin forming. Allow some plants to form the buds, and harvest these when they are anywhere from one or two inches wide.
Early Wonder Beet (Beta vulgaris): This heirloom beet will mature in about 48 days giving you edible greens and beets. Use the greens much like spinach. This vegetable loves cool weather but doesn’t do well in very hot temperatures. Beet greens can be used as a substitute for spinach in any recipe.
To sow beet seeds, especially when it’s late in the season, it helps to soak the seeds overnight, planting at a depth of 1/2 inch. Beet seeds are groups together, so it’s important to thin as they emerge, choosing the healthiest looking seedling.
Beets can be harvested when they are about 1 1/2 inches round, and very tender. The leaves can be snipped when the plant is over three inches in height. Snip no more than 1/3 of the plant when harvesting the greens.
Arugula Rocket (Eruca sativa): This green is a great addition to mixed green salads with it’s peppery taste, but it can also be added to soups and other dishes. It’s a fast grower, germinating in ten days or so, and maturing at 30-45 days. Sow the seeds at 1/4 inch deep up until a couple of weeks before frost is expected.
Arugula can be harvested when the leaves are a couple of inches long, but before it passes six inches. If the plant flowers the leaves will become bitter, so harvest it before it blooms. The smaller leaves are the most tender and tasty.
Contender Bush Bean(Phaseolus vulgaris): Another heirloom vegetable that has survived the years because of it’s tolerance to heat and mildew plus it’s excellent taste. It’s a stringless bush bean that germinates in ten days or less and matures in 50 days. The seeds are sown at a depth of one inch. There is plenty of time for the beans to mature before a hard frost.
This beans can be harvested when the pods are four inches in length. Try not to let them grow beyond 8 inches for the best taste.