With summer on its way, now is the time to plan your summer garden. A little bit of time now can help enormously in the success of your crops. The most important things to consider are where you planted last year and how well each plant grew. Another critical question is whether they suffered from disease or pest infestations.
Combat pest and disease by rotating your crops
Crop rotation is crucial in any vegetable garden, as it can help prevent pest and disease occurring. Many pests and diseases that attack a specific plant can overwinter near where they were planted the previous summer, just waiting for you to plant them again.
Further, by rotating your crops in different sections of your beds, you will have food available in the soil for your plants that last summer's plants didn't use, thus further preventing stunted growth.
Plan your companions to improve growth and prevent pest & disease
Companion planting is another valuable asset when planning, as this can attract beneficial and pollinating insects, which in turn will aid the plant in its growth and help to prevent pests and disease.
Two basic companion categories to consider are:
- Tomatoes, capsicum, chilli, eggplant, lettuce, dill, marigold, calendula, basil and thyme, which all love being planted in close proximity to each other, and benefit one another greatly.
- Beans, cucumbers, zucchini, corn, pumpkin, squash, sunflowers, dill and a nearby planting of nasturtiums is another recipe for success. The beauty of having nasturtiums nearby is they attract pollinating insects, which will highly benefit zucchini and also repel the bean beetle.
Plant according to available water and plan for water retention
The key to a successful summer garden is to plant only as much as you are able to keep watered during the hot months, when water can be scarce.
Make the most of the moist soil by preparing your beds with rotted compost and some carbon, like leaves or straw, as this will keep your soil life very happy and help retain moisture. Start to gather mulch ready to put around your plants after a heavy rainfall.
Another top tip is to ensure you have enough moisture in your soil before you plant, as dry soil will struggle to hold moisture over summer.
Step 4: Wait for the right time to plant and have your support ready
I recommend waiting to plant until the temperatures are consistently into their 20s to give your plants the best start. Most summer seeds germinate in 20 degree heat. Planting when the soil is cold will weaken your plants, in turn attracting pests and disease.
Take the time to build your support frames over the next month in preparation for climbing plants like beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, and as a support for tall sunflowers in windy areas.
Good preparation, food and a vigilant eye are the recipe for success in your summer garden.