8 Great Tips for Your Summer Garden
Gerardo Gallegos of Restore Ventura shares tips to help gardeners of all abilities have a thriving edible summer garden.
Start small: For first-time gardeners, Gerardo suggests a summer crop of tomatoes and zucchini, which are prolific producers and need minimal care. Other good choices include kale and Swiss chard, which produce leafy greens for approximately a year before finishing their lifecycle.
Prep: Interested in keeping chickens and ducks? The birds can help prepare an area for planting. As they scavenge for weeds and bugs they will also be turning over the soil.
Compost: Maximize your production and reduce labor by laying down four inches of compost and then four inches of wood chips before planting. Compost provides organic fertilizer for the new plants. Wood chips are a weed suppressant and retain precious moisture.
Plant: Sprinkle seeds on top of the wood chips and simply agitate the surface slightly before watering. The seeds fall into the cracks between wood chips and require little water after germination due to the moisture retention of the soil preparation. (The film Back to Eden [BackToEdenFilm.com] has valuable info on gardening with limited water.)
Bugs: Beneficial insects, like ladybugs and praying mantises, can help control common garden pests. Some nurseries stock them, or check out Rincon-Vitova Insectaries (RinconVitova.com) in Ventura.
Variety: Plant a variety of vegetables and fruits. If you plant large swaths of one crop, harmful insects or diseases could wipe out the entire harvest.
Kids: Youngsters can get involved in every step of the gardening process. Let them make decisions about what to grow and include crops like carrots and radishes, which take only about a month to mature.
Community: Because many hands make light work, Gallegos suggests having planting parties and harvest potluck meals.