I have some space in my raised bed that I can use to plant some vegetables for the rest of the season. Is it too late to start vegetables from seeds now? If not, what are vegetables that would be appropriate to start from seed perhaps with the goal of harvesting in fall? I am in Zone 9B.
What would it be like to live in zone 9B? Gosh, you should be able to grow anything you want for a second crop. When is it that you get your first frost or do you even have to worry about that?
For the sun, you've got a good 60 to 90 days of decent daylight hours left. I'd stay away from stuff that is prone to bolting like spinach and the brassicas. Potatoes would work, peas of course, peppers, a salad bowl bed with radishes and all kinds of lettuce seed (I am doing this today), planting some perennials like asparagus, berries, raspberries, horse radish, rhubarb, lemon grass...and blueberries. Artichokes should do spectacularly in your zone. You should have plenty of time for pole or bush beans.
I bring up perennials because now is when these plants go on sale. Even in my gag me zone 1B I've got perennials that are there every year surviving this awful weather. Artichokes didn't make it but do well as an annual. Raspberries, strawberries, boysenberries, blueberries survive. You could also do some cover crops. Just have to make sure they don't go to seed. It is fun to get the beds covered in a new cover crop one hasn't tried; buckwheat is beautiful and produces quality food builds up your soil. Doesn't do well with added nitrogen! Your worst soil beds should have this grown on it. Do you have honey bees? Makes incredible honey.
Cucumbers and squash should produce for you nicely. Have you tried Amaranth? Talk about another great food! I've been shopping for Amaranth seed as I've never grown this stuff. From what I have been reading it is worth taking up some of your garden to grow!
Cilantro should be planted as a second crop but it always bolts. I'm growing second crops of kale and Thai basil. What type of soil do you have? Gees I am so jealous. That salad bowl bed might be your best bet. I plant two per year no matter the zone. Wish there was a way to preserve lettuce but haven't found one don't think I am gonna either.
I fill a pizza pepper shaker with all the gourmet lettuces, radish, some kale...sprinkle it on a prepared bed. Baby lettuces at the beginning then mature romaine and butter crunch all the way into the fall. Forget doing ROWS of plants. Doing mass planting gets you so very much more per season. You thin as you eat. That statement sounds weird! I mix carrot seeds into the shaker for the early planting.
Don't forget garlic! Late summer is the best time to start your garlic crop for the next year. Even shallots. Onions last all winter long as green onions. Do you have a potato cellar?
The above answer is awesome. I love Stormy's idea of using a pizza pepper shaker to spread seeds. I am definitely going to use this for my carrots next time.
I also wanted to share this zone 9 planting guide that suggests just about everything can grow well in Zone 9 for a fall harvest.
The only things it lists for direct sowing in July are tomatoes and peppers. I imagine it's quite hot in zone 9 right now so you might have more success if you wait a few weeks. Perhaps you could start some seedlings inside now, and then once the weather cools off a bit in mid-August, you can transplant to the garden. Or, with a little afternoon shade, you can probably start some seedlings right away. Good luck!
I don't know what July is like in your area, but in my area of a different zone it's one of the three hottest months of the year. Here's what I would recommend planting (direct-seeding) when it's already hot:
- Zucchini and other summer squash (winter squash, too, if the frost is a ways away); squash will germinate and grow fine in the heat, usually; I would only worry if you don't have enough time left in the season (which should only be an issue for winter squash) or if squash bugs are rampant
- Melons, if you have time enough for them to grow
- Watermelons, if you have time enough for them to grow
- Sunflowers (these seem to germinate and grow well in a wide range of warm temperatures, including when it's quite hot)
- I've heard beans and corn might do okay planted late or in succession, but I don't have a lot of experience there.
- If it's below 95° F. you can probably grow tomatoes. I read somewhere that germination rates decline significantly at 95+° F.; my experience seems to go along with this)
- If tomatoes grow fine, I'm sure peppers and tomatillos will, too. Peppers seem to like somewhat warmer temperatures than tomatoes for germination, but that's my observation.
- Amaranth (this needs a fair amount of heat to sprout well)
- You might try sorghum.
- You might try okra.
I wouldn't particularly recommend planting regular cucumber seeds during the hottest part of the year (although you might get it to work if you do things right), but you might try Armenian cucumbers (which are technically melons and quite vigorous in the heat—at least semi-arid heat; I'm not sure about humid heat; people harvest much earlier than regular melons, typically). I'm guessing West Indian Burr Gherkins would do well in humid heat, though (I've read they like it, and I'm guessing they'd germinate in it). My experience with regular cucumbers in the heat is that they germinate, but they seem to prefer somewhat cooler conditions than many other cucurbits (but maybe that's just in my climate and soil).
If you don't have loads of season left, I'd recommend early varieties of most things, except things like zucchini that are early enough (e.g. Blacktail Mountain watermelon, Yellow Doll F1 watermelon, Verona watermelon, Minnesota Midget melon, Matina tomatoes, Glacier tomatoes, etc.) Creole is a tomato that can do well in humid heat; it is large and not terribly late.