Gardeners in cold climate areas are always eager to plant their vegetable gardens early each spring because they know the growing season is extremely short. Using fast-maturing varieties insures that the crop is ready to harvest before frost.
Don’t stop gardening yet! Gardeners in zones 3 and 4 can also have a second season (or third!) with succession planting. Maximize your garden’s yield by planting multiple crops of plants that are tolerant of cool weather and light frost.
The key to success: Sticking to varieties with fewer days to maturity. Find days to maturity information can be found online or on the back of the seed packet, and will tell you the average number or days from when the plant is actively growing in the garden until the time of harvest. Note, this number isn’t a hard or fast rule as variations will occur with soil moisture, heat, micro-climates and soil fertility.
Recommended for Second Summer Gardening:
Brassicas: Cabbage, Broccoli and Cauliflower can tolerate light frost, and many gardeners believe the flavor is sweeter when they mature in cool weather. Start broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage from seed in early June, then transplant into a prepared garden bed by the end of the month. These plants especially benefit from proper spacing (12 to 24 inches) and reliable moisture.
Leafy Greens: Direct sow spinach, lettuce, swiss chard, arugula, cilantro and baby kale mix every 3 to 4 weeks throughout the summer for many harvests! Keep in mind that early sowings will mature faster during the warm days of summer. Leafy greens grown in late summer are slower to bolt and have fewer insect pests!
Root Crops: Direct sow fast-maturing carrots, beets and turnips by the end of June. Radishes can be direct down until the end of July. Root crops will benefit from reliable watering during the hot days of late summer. If an early frost does strike, root crops are underground and naturally protected.