The summer solstice marked the official start of summer and your spring peas are done and looking a little brown. The lettuce is getting lanky and bitter. You’ve nibbled the kale down to nubs. Now what?
Year-round harvest means rotating plants in and out of your garden. Late spring and early summer good times to make changes that will take you through a summer of harvests eating your fresh veggies and fruit. Here are eight hot tips to keep you going through the summer.
Evaluate Your Garden
Remove spring plants that are finished yielding and annual flowers that are finished for the season. Chop or break them into small pieces and put them in your compost.
Find the Gaps
Now you have cleared some space, you can see where the gaps and opportunities for plants are in your garden. Think about how much time you have until your first frost. Light is not a limiting factor now, but it might slow a harvest the frosts come. Put your transplants into those spaces instead of seeds. Also, remember that that cute little zucchini plant will spread surprisingly quickly. This will be fine as long as you remove other spring annuals or broccoli, cauliflower, or similar plants at the end of their harvest.
A planting calendar can help you know week to week what plants will do well in your garden in your area. By mid-June major summer crops should be in. In the Midwest there is a gap of two to four weeks and then fall crops are seeded in flats. If you are still looking to plant something in the last part of June, summer squashes and bush beans are a great choice.
Treat Your Transplants Well
When transplanting seedlings now, expect to baby them more than at other times. Be sure to water them regularly. Watering in the summer should be done in the early morning or near sunset and close to the soil so that you don’t stress the leaves of the plants. You may need to prune plants back if they show signs of stress such as yellowing leaves or wilting.
Choose Plants for Heat and Drought
Some of the best plants for heat and drought are annual fruits and veggies. Tomatoes, Mediterranean cooking herbs, squash, eggplant, peppers, and beans are all tolerant of intense summers. Summer squash are shorter-lived than winter squash. Malabar spinach, in particular, loves the heat. Ground cherries, a relative of tomatillo, are splendid in a summer garden and a delightful treat.
Choose Small Fruits Over Larger Ones
For example, choose cherry tomatoes rather than beefsteak tomatoes. Smaller fruit ripens more quickly, and over a longer period of time, than larger fruits.
Plan for Fall
As you evaluate your garden, you will get to when the harvest of a particular plant will happen and which ones will die back. These plants create space for your fall crops to fill in. It’s easier to start your fall crops in trays and protect the trays from excessive heat, light, and drought than it is to protect seedlings directly sown into the garden. This is also the time to buy seeds you want to plant in the fall. A planting calendar can be an excellent guide for what works best in your area.
Keep a Record
There are many garden journals out there to choose from. Sometimes a simple calendar is the best tool. Writing down an observation each day helps you learn about your own garden and gardening style. This habit will help you anticipate when a pest is likely to appear in the garden and when to expect the harvest.
Following these eight steps will help to keep you in fresh food well into the fall!