Summer Gardening Tips With @HeyGardenZaddy

Story & Photos by Aaron Aiken

We paired up with our favorite urban farmer enthusiast, @heygardenzaddy, to relay some reminders about hot temps & peak sun in the garden this summer.

Summer gardening can be a lot, but it's a wonderful time to learn, grow, and enjoy some of the most delicious and nutritious food on earth! Keep these tips in mind, and be gracious with yourself if you're new to it--your green thumb will grow along the way. - Aaron (Garden Zaddy)

Hot Temp & High Sun Gardening Reminders


Water Deep & Early/Late

It's easy to think that a little spritz with a hose nozzle is enough to reach the depths of a raised bed, but you need to go slow and really ensure everything is hydrated down to the roots. I like to set my hose nozzle to the shower or full setting and let it run for a few minutes into needed spots while I do some pruning, and make sure you do it either very early in the morning or after the sun has set. Mid-day watering will easily evaporate, and can burn your plants.


Harvest & Prune Often

Summer gardening is the perfect time to grow some of the best vegetables out there, and with the high temperatures and abundant sunlight, they will grow fast. The more you harvest the more energy your plants will have to produce new fruiting stems, and the more you prune off old growth or unnecessary vines (like an indeterminate tomato or cucumber that is growing away from your trellis) the more your plant will direct energy into helpful growth. Similarly pruning off excess leaves and vines will increase airflow, and minimize disease.


Plan Your Trellising Early

Most plants need support over a certain size, and they should grow into that support rather than MacGyver something around them. There are a multitude of great options out there including cattle panel trellises, arches, heavy-duty tomato cages, the Florida weave, and more elaborate solutions, but plan ahead so that when your plants explode with growth you can just enjoy it.


Mulch, Mulch, & Then Mulch Some More

If you're in a Mediterranean or arid climate mulch is beyond essential - it will make or break your garden. At a bare minimum, your mulch should be an inch thick, but 3-4 is even better and will help conserve water and minimize plant stress. Mulch can be straw, wood chips, spent plant material and so much more - what matters most is that you have it there. (Don't use plastic or rubber mulch.)


Be Slow To Reach For Sprays

Summer is generally when pest pressure is at its highest, but don't forget that nature knows what to do. I used to freak out when I saw aphids or thrips pop up, but you know who loves to eat both of those? Ladybugs and Green Lacewings! If you notice a lot of them give them a spray with the hose, but say no to commercial pest sprays - they don't just harm the bad bugs, they can also harm the beneficial insects and life in the soil that helps your plants grow. Similarly don't just spray fungicides at the sign of less-than-perfect leaves - lower leaves naturally tend to die off. Reach for your pruner or shears before the bottle, and prune off crusty leaves.

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Aaron is an urban gardener, garden consultant, and content creator based in Pasadena, California. You can find him creating informative and entertaining garden content on all social media platforms, where he goes by @HeyGardenZaddy. He is passionate about educating and empowering families to start growing their own organic food.

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