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Most gardeners don’t think of July as the time to plant seeds in the vegetable garden. But it should be. This is a good time to plant many things including broccoli, “Happy Rich” mini broccoli, lettuce, kohlrabi, fall radishes, carrots and beets. With good warmth and plenty of rain (or water from your hose), these plants will probably do better now than in if they were planted in the spring.

If you planted peas, spinach or lettuce early this spring, you probably have a bed that is empty now. Instead of just growing weeds, why not get out your seed packets and plant a second crop in that bed?

In the spring I generally plant seeds in those little black plastic 6-packs. I do that because the soil outdoors is cold and wet, and seeds are prone to rot. Now, however, the soil is warm and seeds will germinate much more quickly. All you have to do is check them daily to be sure that the soil has not dried out.

Broccoli, if you read the seed package, takes about 55 days to maturity. So if you plant in mid-July, you should be picking heads of broccoli in mid-September or even a bit earlier. Read the seed packets carefully: as I peruse my Johnny’s Selected Seeds catalog, I see broccoli varieties that mature in anywhere from 48 to 80 days. Some varieties like “Arcadia” (63 days) are listed as “tolerant of cold stress.” That one also says it makes lots of side shoots. Since broccoli produces well into October for me, getting side shoots is important.

So how should you plant broccoli if you have always put it in as nice little plants that you — or the local grower down the road — has grown? I would suggest planting 3 seeds in groups about 16 inches apart. Why 3 seeds? First, not every seed will germinate, so I like to ensure that at least one will come up. But rather than plant them like carrots in a long line, just plant a few seeds where you want one plant. Then as soon as the plants have 2 real leaves, pull out all but one. And since you’ll…