June 21st marked the longest day of sun for 2019! As a gardener, the Summer Solstice may be an impetus to harvest the herbs and flowers that are in full bloom this time of year such as St. John’s Wort, chamomile, calendula, lavender, fennel, hemp, mugwort, rosemary, thyme, meadowsweet, verbena, sage, mint elder and roses. But did you know it is also a good time to do some sowing?
Although we typically think of growing seasons marked by the length of the day, it is actually the length of the night that cues growth, flowering and fruiting for many plants, which can be classified as one of the following: Long Day plants, Short Day plants and Day Neutral plants.
A Long Day plant, such as a beet, requires more than 12 hours of sunlight (or less than 12 hours of darkness) to produce a bloom or flower. A Short Day plant, such as the soybean, requires more than 12 hours of darkness (or less than 12 hours of sunlight) to produce. A Day Neutral plant, like the tomato, is not dependent on the length of light but rather is cued to flower after reaching a certain age or stage of growth.
These long bright days around the Solstice are great for planting a variety of flowers, herbs and even vegetables that will bloom and produce over the course of the summer.
Marigolds, sunflowers, impatiens and columbines can be planted in late June and July. Spruce up your garden with some late bloomers and have flowers for the table throughout the warm months.
A herb container is also a great Solstice project. Many herbs, such as basil, parsley, chives, sage and thyme thrive in the heat and are easy to grow in pots, baskets or in the ground.
Have you been too busy to plant that vegetable garden and think it’s too late for this year? Think again. There are many vegetables that love the long summer days and short nights including aubergine, squash, courgette, peas, carrots and bell peppers. Beans are another perfect summertime crop. Some varieties will give you a lovely yield in just a month or two. You can even plant some melons. They should be ripe in time for a perfect late summer treat. You’ll want to wait until next year, however, for veggies that like those cooler days and longer nights, such as cabbage and cruciferous vegetables, as they need the long dark hours to grow big enough to produce their yields.
Whether you plan to spend some picking, planting or simply relaxing, the warmer weather and longer days around this time of year make it the perfect time to get outside and take in some extra Vitamin D. Happy gardening!