If you haven’t already, it’s high time to get your summer vegetables in the garden. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, beans and cucumbers are best planted late-May to mid-June.
Prepare your planting area
To get your summer garden planted, you first need to make space. Summer vegetables need your sunniest spot in the garden, at least six hours per day. Harvest any radish, bok choy, spinach or lettuce that is already planted. You can transplant these cool-weather crops in shadier spots in the garden to keep them going longer into the season. Add lots of compost and some natural, organic fertilizer and some fresh soil.
When planting tomatoes, you first need to choose which variety is best for your garden. If you have a trellis or lots of space, choose indeterminate varieties – vines that will give you a continuous harvest from early August until November. If you do not want a trellis, are on a balcony or have less space, choose determinant varieties – bushes that can be supported by a cage or stake and will give you one big harvest followed by a possible bumper crop.
Plant tomatoes very deeply, removing the bottom leaves. The buried section of stem will sprout extra roots and give you an extra big root ball for an extra productive and vigorous plant. Tomatoes need lots of water, so if you are planting in a pot, make sure it is at least 16” across and at least 12” deep so you have enough volume of soil for water retention.
Planting Peppers and Eggplants
These are super-heat loving vegetables. They benefit from the hottest, sunniest spot in your garden, and do especially well in their own container. For extra vigour and productivity cover the soil around the base of your pepper or eggplant with large, dark stones. These will collect the heat during the day, and keep the roots and soil warm throughout the cooler night. You will be rewarded for your effort with bigger, earlier harvests.
Choose seedlings that are around 4” – 6” tall. These will suffer the least from transplant shock, and will end up doing better for you than larger plants. As for all vegetable gardening, make sure your soil is light and fluffy by adding peat moss and vermiculite to lots of compost and add natural, organic fertilizers like worm castings, kelp fertilizer or fish emulsion – especially good for fruiting vegetables.
Choose pole beans to climb a fence, trellis or string. Make a bean teepee for a great focal point in the garden. Choose bush beans to fill out the middle of a garden. Beans are very productive, and delicious. They give you a nice early harvest and keep on giving long into the fall. Plant beans from seed. They germinate quickly and do not enjoy being transplanted. Plant these large seeds about 3/4” deep, and 3” apart.
A great choice if you have a little bit less sun, cucumber can do well in 4 or 5 hours per day of sun. As with all other fruiting veggies, the more sun you give them the greater your harvest will be. Cucumber is a great climber. If you don’t have a trellis, simply gently tie a string around the stem of the cucumber and attach it to something 6’ – 8’ up, such as a balcony, fence or pole. They can also vine around on the ground if you have lots of floor space.
Writer Byline: Tereska Gesing is the owner of Urban Seedling [www.urbanseedling.com], an edible landscaping and vegetable gardening service in Montreal. She grows 65 different kinds of vegetables, berries and fruit trees with her husband and two young children in her Verdun backyard. Find out more at www.urbanseedling.com