Home & Garden

Focus on warm-weather vegetables for summer

Andrea Peck is a UC Master Gardener.
Andrea Peck is a UC Master Gardener.

Q: What vegetables can I plant now?

— Sam Giacoletti, San Simeon

A: While your spring planting may be off to a good start, you might be tempted to rest on your laurels and enjoy the view. But don’t! There is a vast array of delicious summer vegetables available and now is a great time to find some empty space in your garden for them.

Summer (or warm-season) vegetables grow best during the longer, warmer days of summer. They thrive between temperatures of 65 degrees and 95 degrees Fahrenheit, and do not tolerate frost well. Although we call them vegetables, they are actually the immature or mature fruits of corn, tomatoes, cucumber, onions, peppers, beans and summer squash (including zucchini).

When planting, select a garden spot that receives plenty of daylight. Remember, those summer veggies like it hot. But just because they love the sun doesn’t mean they don’t need water—drip systems and soaker hoses are excellent tools that promote sustainable gardening. Remember, if all goes well you will be collecting your edibles often, so clear access is a must.

Once you find a suitable area for your vegetables, it is always a good idea to amend the soil. Compost works well for this purpose. Work it thoroughly into your soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches before planting. Mulching around your plants will keep moisture in.

To maximize yield, especially in the smaller garden, efficient use of space is key. Growing vertically is one method that has many benefits. Crops such as tomato, squash, cucumber and pole beans grow easily upright. Using a trellis, stake or other support, such as a nearby fence, are all great ways to get your crops off the ground (and away from ground-dwelling pests).

Creating a diagram or plan will organize you and save time in the long run. Think outside the row — some crops can be planted in small blocks for a better use of space. Consider the vagaries of each crop. The requirements for each plant are different.

Finally, remember to leave enough room in your plan for next season!