I can hardly believe that we are already at this point in the year. Here in Phoenix we’ve had unseasonably high temps and a few weeks have felt like Summer. I had early bolting with spinach and lettuce because of it; but I hate to complain because I had an awesome Fall & Spring garden this year!
I have been avoiding the summer prep work because of the early heat. However, this weekend was exceptionally nice. I took advantage of the cooler temps to get some work done.
Are you ready to start planning summer garden? Here are my tips!
1. What can you plant?
You need to know what veggies are going to grow in your climate during the summer. In Phoenix we have 120 degree days in the summer so it isn’t my BIG season to grow. But your climate may be more temperate and this may be your big growing season. Start with your county extension office. Ours has a calender for planting every 2 weeks. I also like to play around with Sprout Robot; just put in your zip code and it will produce a list of veggies to start in your area. Fun!
2. Evaluate your space.
When I started gardening, I started small. So if you have a 4×4 garden box versus a 4 acre plot, then plan accordingly. What do you want most from your garden this year? What will you actually eat? If you are just starting out this isn’t the time to get really experimental and plant a bunch of vegetables you’ve never heard of. The most exciting thing about a garden is the harvest and eating of it!
3. Make a plan.
I usually start with a notebook and plot out each of my 4×4 beds. Then once I have a final plan I make a model of it on Word. You need to know where and how much you’ll be planting. I have mainly used Square Foot Gardening which makes planning and plotting very easy. Once you know WHAT you want to plant you need to know how many of that you can plant per acre. Take for instance Harvester Beans, I know that I can plant 9 beans per square. So I will plot how many squares I want to use for Harvester Beans.
But the next part is super important to your successful Summer garden.
4. Crop Rotation & Companion Planting
Let’s start with crop rotation. This sounds like something that might only apply to commercial farmers but backyard gardeners need to make this part of their year long plan. The idea of crop rotation is that you plant veggies for a season and then after harvest you follow with a crop that uses different soil components and some that will re-nourish the soil. This crop rotation will also help prevent disease and discourage pests. Take for instance potatoes. I planted a lovely 4×4 bed in the winter and harvested them last month. I followed that with watermelon for my summer garden. This will aid in that bed not becoming subject to disease and pests. If you planted a Fall or Spring garden look at what plants you grew and plan to use something in that bed that is of a different family. I found lots of great suggestions with a simple Google search.
5. GET IT PLANTED
Planning is great but more than anything you need to get out there and PLANT!