If ripening crops have left you with space in your garden, you don't have to let it sit idle for the rest of the summer - there's still time to plant late crops to increase your yield and provide good eating.
It's late to plant cabbages and other long-season plants from seed, but forward-looking gardeners probably planted some earlier, and greehouses can usually supply young plants. This is a good time for setting them where they'll grow.
And it's time to plant others, like beans, which can be sown until there are about 75 frost-free days left, and beets, which flourish with fall planting. Cucumbers are often sown in succession to provide plenty to pickle during the cool of autumn.
Forget about the long-season vegetables, like tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. They like it hot. But there are plenty of short-season items, like lettuce, which can be planted continously thoughout the season and shaded from the summer sun, and kohlrabi, beets, spinach, kale and all kinds of cool weather greens.
Radishes need only about 30 days to mature, so they make a good fall crop. They can be planted in late August, even through September, and still mature by frost.
Turnips and rutabagas are usually planted in July, for fall roots, and around here may succeed if planted up to late August.
Peas and carrots can be planted late, and so can arugala, which prefers it cool, and corn salad, which will grow well into winter.
Late crops aren't difficult to grow, but they do need some special attention and care, because, to be honest, they'd rather not sprout in August or September if they have a choice about it.
Soaking seed overnight before planting will make the seed come up faster, and shielding the just-planted rows from the hot sun will help, too. You can mulch the rows lightly or cover them with strips of burlap to keep the seeds cool until they sprout. Regular watering will speed that.
If you want your late crops to flourish, don't plant them in a spot already tired from an early yield. Enrich the spots with compost or rotted manure and add a bit of lime for extra nourishment.
Follow leaf vegetables with root vegetables and vice versa. Don't follow cabbages with cabbages, or any member of the family. And feel free to plant anything in the spots where beans or peas have already done your fertilizing.
Just remember to give your fall crops a little more time than the seed packages suggest. And, if you want to have big success with succession planting, you're going to have to be a little heartless about clearing the vegetables that have finished producing out of your plot. Once they're past their prime, they attract bugs after the easy prey of tired plants.
Once your late crops get growing, you can start thinking about portable cold frames, which are a perfect match for autumn vegetables. If you give them shelter on cold nights, some of those hardy plants will grow right through the winter.