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The time is right for a late-summer garden!

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Southeastern Michigan’s got the right zone for a plentiful fall harvest

Didn’t plant a summer garden? It’s not too late!

Believe it or not, August and September are great times to put things into the ground for a bountiful fall harvest.

The reason? It has to do with Michigan’s hardiness zones. What’s a hardiness zone? The USDA divides climates from the lowest winter temperatures to the highest. For example, northern Alaska is in Zone 1. On the other end, Hawaii and Puerto Rico are in Zone 13.

For some of us, the last thing on our minds could possibly be, “What can I plant in August and September?”

Michigan actually has six hardiness zones. The warmest zone can be found in southeastern Michigan with a number of 6b. And that’s good news if we want to squeeze more veggies out of the garden before we put the gloves and tools away.

A few pointers before you dig in during the last month of summer:

  • Location, location, location: It’s really important to pick a spot for your late summer garden that gets at least eight hours of sun each day, says Greening of Detroit’s Sue Hudnut.
  • Start with quality soil: The good news is most smaller and big-box home improvement stores will still have soil, topsoil, and everything you need to get your late-summer garden started.
  • Stick with seasonal food that does well during summer and fall. Such vegetables as carrots, radishes, lettuces (most varieties), spinach, broccoli, spring cabbage, kale, and beets tend to like the cooler temps toward the harvest season. You can expect September or October yields from your August planting, according to LawnStarter.com, a lawn service.
  • A healthy harvest: The good news is most of what can be planted are food types that are very healthy and nutritionally more beneficial when homegrown. They’re loaded with natural fiber, which most of us aren’t getting enough of.
  • Not all bugs are bad. While most insects can wreak havoc on a garden, there are some who are helpers. Ladybugs and praying mantises are helpful. But what to do about the bad ones? Stick with organic pesticides. These bug killers contain natural elements that aren’t toxic to humans or pets. Such products as Neem contain natural ingredients that are slow acting. For more on organic pesticides, click here.
  • Explore additional resources. Former weatherman Chuck Gaidica hosts “A Healthier Michigan” podcast and in Episode 32, he moderates a discussion on growing late-summer vegetables in Michigan.

Happy planting!