Mid-Summer Activities for the Vegetable Garden

Mid to late summer is the time to harvest, replant, and wait in the home vegetable garden.

Many early season root crops should now be harvested for use or storage. If left too long, many will begin to flower, which degrades the palatability of the roots. Some examples of root crops that are now ready are carrots, beets, garlic, onions and rutabagas. Even selective harvesting of potatoes – known as 'new' potatoes – can be done this time of year. Dig carefully near the potato plant to select a few tubers and then be sure to mound the soil back up and around the plants to protect developing potatoes.

The areas of the garden where root crops were harvested can be tilled and replanted for a fall crop. Peas, spinach, radish and turnips are good candidates for replanting now and enjoying a fall harvest. The Iowa State University Extension publication PM534 Planting and harvesting times for garden vegetables has useful tips and a seasonal calendar.

Zucchini and other summer squash are now flowering and fruiting. Many gardeners are concerned about seeing zucchini blossoms without having a resulting zucchini form. In many cases, the first blossoms on the vine are male blossoms, which provide pollen but do not fruit. As female blossoms emerge, which are characterized by a small immature fruit behind the bloom, the fruit should begin to develop.

 male (above) and female (below) with small, immature fruit at the base of the flower.

Zucchini flowers: male (above) and female (below) with small, immature fruit at the base of the flower.

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