June is a cusp month in gardening: All the seedlings you’ve nurtured all spring have finally left the nest and are going into the ground. But as weird as it may seem, it’s time to start thinking about seeding starts for fall. All the while, there’s still plenty to be direct sown outside, from summer cucurbits to annual flowers.

Direct seeding outside

For the first time, I’ll be direct sowing a number of vegetables that I normally grow inside as seedlings. Growing starts is like a guarantee. You can monitor the seeds, they aren’t exposed to any outside influences like weather or pests, and you can choose the best to plant, precisely where you want them. At the point that the weather is safe to put the seedlings out, you’re already a few weeks ahead. Direct seeding requires a little more trust, and a little more patience—but less work.

Start with the priorities. Seed your corn into the ground, and make sure beans, cucumbers, pumpkins, squash, melons, basil, cabbage and carrots get in by early June. Once those are planted and you’ve marked where they are in the garden so you don’t overplant, make space to seed around them with greens like chard, kale, endive, dill, cilantro, and Asian greens. If you want to plant arugula (it becomes a spreading perennial easily), do so now. 

Then it’s time to consider your succession plantings, like lettuce, beets, radishes and scallions. I’m excited to try new seed tapes this year from Park Seeds for radishes, beets, and carrots, since it eliminates a lot of work on spacing and thinning. You can even make your own

Annual flower seeding

Sunflower seeds went into the ground this week, in rows according to height, with mammoth varieties in the back that will grow twenty feet in the air, and shorter five foot teddy bear varieties in front. Creating a sunflower wall is an easy way to create a border in the garden. You can also start planting zinnias outside now. Remember that zinnias come in heights ranging from a foot to four feet. Mix and match them for a greater impact, and consider the zinnia mixes from Renee’s Gardens. They always have spectacular mixes by color and size that I enjoy. You can still seed nasturtiums, and should, throughout your garden. They act as an aphid trap. 

Consider getting cosmos into the soil now, they’ll grow to five or six feet and grow bushy, with delicate flowers that fill the late summer season. Ammi, a carrot flower that makes a good filler flower for gardens, can be sown now, as can amaranthus. 

Start your perennials for next year

Once the summer starts are cleared from my growing room, I think about the perennials that I have space for. These are expensive starts to buy at the garden center, so they’re always worth nurturing at home. Agastache, also known as hummingbird mint, can be found in a wide swath of colors from Etsy growers. I haven’t found as many colors from commercial seed houses, and you could grow an actual rainbow of starts. Echinacea, one of my favorite July bloomers, now comes in so many electric colors and beautiful shapes, and will return each year. Starting seeds now means you’ll have a well-developed four-inch start by the end of summer to go into the ground. Consider perennial salvia (there is an annual salvia, too). Yarrow is no longer confined to the yellow and whites you’ve seen everywhere: Summer berry yarrow comes in sweeping reds and pinks. Columbines make delightful summer blooms, like upside-down bells. You can start them now. Lastly, consider giving delphinium, a notoriously tricky seed to germinate, a try. Having this perennial spike come up each year in the garden is always worthwhile.

Start to think about fall

You shouldn’t need to start fall starts until early July, but you should prepare lists and get your seeds now. It’s a great time to do so, because seeds are on sale everywhere. I receive sale notices daily from every seed house I subscribe to, so check in with the seed houses closest to you and grab what you’ll need.