If you were thinking about a summer garden but you got distracted with other things this spring, you might think that it’s too late to plant a garden this summer.  But it isn’t too late just yet; you can plant plenty of veggies, herbs and flowers this summer.  I recently came across an article about creating a rooftop garden in New York this summer, which interviews rooftop farmer Annie Novak.  

If you’re starting your season late, look for crops that mature within the time frame of your growing season.  For example, many tomatoes bear fruit within 55-90 days.  If the transplant doesn’t have a tag that says says how long it takes to grow, then you can look up the variety online and see how many days there are between planting and harvesting.  Then figure out how many days you have left until the frost.  You’ll want to harvest before Halloween, which is typically when the first real cold spell hits New York.  Typically, any crop that you eat for the root, stem or leaf can be planted twice within a season, while the plants you harvest for the fruit/flower/seed do best when only planted once.  

Container growings, which are really the only way to grow in New York, depend on all sorts of variables: the material and size, what growing medium you use, how much sun it gets, the list goes on and on.  But the key is drainage.  Make sure that both water and air can move through your soil.  Healthy soil promotes bigger populations of the right microorganisms, which are the key to plant health.  You’ll know if your growing medium is too dry or waterlogged by how it looks, feels and smells.  

Apart from what containers you use, keep weather conditions in mind.  There are, thankfully, a few simple workarounds.  For one, use a higher-volume container that can help stop the growing media from cooking.  If you’re using basic potting mix, add in compost.  And if your plants are really struggling, then continue to select for plants that handle hot growing conditions well.  For example, if you’re having trouble with heat, go for peppers over tomatoes, which can handle heat much better.