Memorial Day Weekend is the all-time indicator that summer is right around the corner. There’s something special about this particular holiday. And not just the fact it’s set aside to honor our troops. That special day we use to remember those who’ve died in service to our country also brings to mind soft summer breezes at the beach, wearing sandals everywhere we go (when we bother with something on our feet at all–my personal preference is going barefoot) and closer to home, taking a walk outside in the garden. There’s nothing quite like opening the back door on a crisp, gray morning (yes, May gray and June gloom are very real here until the marine layer burns off) and stepping out into my own special place where I’ve planted my own herbs and vegetables. But the summer heat can do a number on certain plants. Picking the right ones that can handle the heat and full sun is tricky. If you’re contemplating a summer garden, ask a pro. There are tons of informative websites that will help. Some will even take questions and reply by email.
Crashing that barrier and fear of what exactly to plant is the first step to making your garden just as lush in August as the one you planted in March. I admit that California’s drought conditions make the whole idea a bit daunting, but certainly not impossible.
First, start small or small-ish. Maybe begin your summer gardening project with herbs like basil, chives, and mint along with a few rows of beans, zucchini and eggplant. I’d skip tomatoes only because I admit I’ve had major trouble growing them. I did have some success last year with grape tomatoes. But if you’re a long-time green thumber, go for it–plant whatever you like. Don’t let my failure to launch tomato plants stop you.
Don’t have a lot of room or a backyard? Don’t let that discourage you from trying. Herbs can be grown in simple containers or planter boxes. Get creative. Turn a balcony or a small patio into your own patch of lettuce or rosemary.
The best advice I got my first year of having a summer garden was about watering. Water generously but do NOT and I mean, do NOT, water the leaves. It causes a perfect environment for fungal disease. Water when the top soil is dry, about an inch down and water the dirt not the plant itself. If the seedlings or sprouts start to droop, or if you notice mold, you’ve watered them too much, too often.
If you do start a garden this time of year, feel free to post pics here on my blog touting your success. Brag, beat your chest. It’s okay to feel good about your growing techniques at making dirt come to life. And if you have tips for me, don’t be shy. I’m still learning. After all, I’m the one who killed my lavender because I put it in the shade. Ugh!!
Anyway, I’d love to hear from you. Have a great, growing season!