July is a great time to reset the seeding station at your house. All the summer starts are in the garden at this point, so you have room to put time and energy into succession plantings, fall starts and perennials. Even better, you don’t have to grow the starts inside—you can use your seed trays outside in the sun. I set up a bank of trays in the driveway, in full sun, and ensure they have a bottom-watering tray (that’s a tray filled with water underneath the seed tray so that the soil can always draw whatever water it needs). I use tray domes (the clear plastic dome that sits on top of the seed tray to maintain moisture) sparingly because of the high heat outside. On really hot days I remove the domes, so the seeds don’t fry. As soon as there’s even the tiniest show of germination, the domes come off permanently. 

Succession seeding

Most years, I get a little cocky this time of year and don’t stay on top of my succession planting—and then regret it. This year I’m starting “Succession Saturday,” where every week I force myself to get out, evaluate what needs turnover, and make sure I plant a few lettuces, radishes, beets and kohlrabi.

Get ready for fall

Hopefully, you now have all your fall planting seeds ordered and received and know what you need to plant. July is when you’ll want to get these starts going, so that they’re ready to get slotted into gardening spots in late August/early September. As your summer plants get cleared out, you’ll replace them with fall. Think about your winter hearty vegetables (which, admittedly, is a little tough when it’s 100 degrees out)—cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, root vegetables, etc. 


Spend a moment thinking about every expensive perennial you fawn over at the nursery. Unless they’re vegetable starts, these plants can really take a tool on your finances. So grow them yourself, either from seeds or from a clipping. If you can find someone with one of these perennials, you can usually grab a healthy clipping, strip the end, dip it in rooting powder and get that little guy into some potting soil. You can also do this to duplicate your own plants. If not, get some seeds and get to work. Instead of paying $30 for a coneflower this summer, grow 10 of them for $5 in seeds. If you start now, you’ll have a four-inch pot sized plant by fall.