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Planting a late-summer garden with kids

Sherri Kuhn is a freelance writer, blogger and social media junkie. With a son in college and a daughter in high school, she always has something to write about. Sherri blogs from the heart — with an occasional side of sarcasm and humor...

What to plant at this time of year

Your tomatoes are ripe and the zucchini has taken over the garden, so what do you plant next? Gardening with kids is a fun way to teach them about plants and how things grow, but it isn't just an early-summer project. Keep reading for some ideas about what to plant in your late-summer garden for a fall harvest.
Mom picking carrots with daughter

Out with the old

Most early-season garden plants are done producing and looking tired by now. Clear out some room in your garden by pulling anything that is just hanging around, even smaller plants. Kids can help with removing old plants and gently turning the soil with a hand rake. The more room you create for new plantings, the better they will grow.

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Choose carefully

Planting new crops in late summer is a great way to keep your kids interested in gardening, but it helps to choose the proper plants. There are plenty of choices that not only grow well this time of year, but are great to introduce at your kitchen table. Kids enjoy choosing what to plant, and are much more likely to try a healthier diet with vegetables that they grew. Here are some plants that do well when planted in the fall.

  • carrots
  • beets
  • broccoli
  • Swiss chard
  • kale
  • salad greens
  • leeks
  • radishes
  • spinach

All of these crops can be planted either directly in your garden, or seeds can be started indoors or in a greenhouse.

Most garden plants that are planted in late summer or early fall will need an additional two weeks to mature due to the shorter days and cooler temperatures. Find out when to expect your first fall frost, so that you aren't planting too late for your area. Check the chart on the seed packet for how many days seeds need until maturity, then add two weeks.

Watch that sun

Late summer days can still be quite hot. Make sure the surface of the soil isn't drying out when you are germinating seeds directly in your garden. When temperatures are high, protect your salad greens and other fragile crops with a lightweight shade netting you can purchase at your local garden center.

A little help for the late garden

Not sure how well your garden will grow before the fall frost hits? There are several ways you can protect your plants and help them beat the cooler weather.

Cold frame

A cold frame protects plants from the elements while still allowing sufficient air circulation. This large wooden cold frame ($120) has enough room for your late-summer lettuces and your kids will enjoy caring for them in their little house.

Greenhouse

In particularly cold climates, growing plants in a greenhouse makes sense. This lean-to greenhouse ($230) takes up only a small amount of space but offers plenty of room for your late summer plants.

Go large

If your family has really been bitten by the gardening bug, consider a larger greenhouse that you can use year-round. The Poly-Tex Snap & Grow Greenhouse ($780) offers room for not only your late-summer vegetables, but for all sorts of other plants your kids will enjoy tending all year.

What are you waiting for? Gather your kids and plant your late-summer garden crops now, for wonderful fresh produce to enjoy with your whole family in the fall.

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