vine ripened tomatoes in a farmers' market in NYC, July 2014
Image by Sandy Repp


Summer Veggie Growing Q&A

Summer Vegetable Planting Dates

By Pat Curran, Horticulture Educator, Tompkins County Cooperative Extension

Question: Is it too late to plant vegetables?

It's not too late to plant many vegetables, especially if you live in downtown Ithaca or near the lake, where the growing season is longer. There is always the risk of an early fall frost, however, so better get going!

For long-season or heat-loving vegetables, you should choose the warmest, sunniest spot you can, but be prepared to water regularly if hot dry weather should occur. These veggies would include long-season plants such as winter squash, melons, watermelon, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and okra - all from transplants, not from seed. These kinds cannot take cool weather or frost. Heat-loving vegetables that don't take as long, so you can still start them from seed, include basil, cucumbers, summer squash, and bush beans.

Some other veggies actually don't like hot weather, and seed germination may be much more difficult. Some of these are better grown as fall crops, but in our short growing season, that still usually means it is necessary to plant them in the hot weather of summer. Some may be seeded in a cooler spot, even indoors, and transplanted into the garden after gradually hardening them off to the summer sun. Others are sown directly into the garden, either using the shadier side of a tall vegetable like asparagus or staked tomato, or using rowcover or some other device to keep the soil cooler so that germination will take place.

For a factsheet with more details, either call the GrowLine, the horticultural hotline, at 272-2292, or consult the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County website,

for a two-page factsheet with first and last planting dates for Tompkins County (as always, gardeners living in or near downtown Ithaca gain about 2 weeks of frost-free growing season both in spring and fall).

Ask a Gardener appears weekly in The Journal during the growing season. For answers to other garden, lawn, landscape and pest questions, call Cooperative Extension at 607-272-2292 or email: This article was written by Patricia Curran, horticulture program manager at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County.

For more information about gardeining, including planting dates, consult the Cornell gardening website or call the horticultural hotline at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County at 272-2292.

Last updated January 29, 2021