Late Summer and Fall Gardening
Successive planting of vegetable gardens can provide bountiful harvests until early winter. This is overlooked by gardeners as they reap the rewards of their spring planting during the dog days of summer, but haven’t planned to garden later into the year. However, careful planning of crop rotations could result in a prolonged harvesting season with late summer and fall gardening.
Planning for an ideal crop rotation often begins with the first seeds sown in early spring. Crops generally have a days-to-maturity factor that indicates when a harvesting window could occur. This days to maturity factor can be used to stagger plantings for a longer growing season e.g. seeds sown in late April with a 90 days-to-maturity factor should bear harvestable fruit by early August. Once mature plants are no longer productive, a new late season crop could be sown in their location to prolong the season. Start planning for this type of flow early on by grouping plants with like days to maturity together in blocks and having a tiered system of fast maturing plants transitioning to slow maturing plants. This way you can seamlessly transition through your garden with new plantings as older plants begin to fizzle.
Second plantings should begin with plants with longer days to maturity, however, consideration must also be given to plants that are sensitive to cold/frost. Unless you are planning for an additional rotation of crops, then begin the second planting with those plants that have the longest days to maturity or that are not cold tolerant. The average first frost date for Annapolis, Maryland is October 20th. This date should be used as the finish line for most late season gardens around Annapolis, but always check for your actual first frost date as they change by geographical location.