The Summer veggie garden is hot, productive, thirsty and hungry.   Utilize the cooler morning and afternoons to give your productive garden some love and care.  Providing some shade, adequate nutrients and water, harvesting fruit and vegetables with plant needs adjusted to suit the season.

Protect tender leaves susceptible to sun burn with a shade structure overhead, shielding them from the hottest part of the day.  Hammer in timber or bamboo stakes, thread with garden twine and shade cloth draped over the top and fixed to the stakes with nails, staples or the humble clothes peg.  This structure will have the added bonus of slowing down transpiration, the process of water uptake by plants, slightly lowering their need for extra water.

Harvest vegetables planted in late Winter, early Spring like potatoes, cucumber, beetroot and the last of zucchini before planting, leek, tomato, eggplant, corn, capsicum and snake beans. If you don’t have an existing pumpkin vine setting fruit, then consider putting one in.  They do require a lot of room but are incredibly productive, producing enough for a family for the best part of the following year.

Encourage worms and their underground burrowing, excellent for aerating the soil, eating and pooing habits, providing valuable nutrients at the same time.  They prefer a friable or looser soil, achieved with a good ratio of sand, loam, clay and essential organic matter for food.  If you build the soil, they will come!

Composting is at its peak, breaking down faster in the heat of Summer.  Compost benefits the soil, plants and worms with aeration for plant roots aiding their uptake of water whilst increasing water holding capacity with added friability.  It breaks down with the aid of micro-organisms, worms and fungi into hummus, conditioning the soil and feeding plants.  During Summer, care for your compost, ensuring it has adequate air by lifting and turning with a garden fork before layering green and brown garden scraps and some water. If you utilize a composting bin then ensure you drive a stake or star picket into the mix, making several holes right through to the bottom of the pile.  You will be surprised how this aids in the composting process by allowing essential oxygen into the centre of the mix.

Every productive garden deserves the addition of herbs.  They are incredibly beneficial to the plot, aiding in insect control whilst attracting beneficial insects like bees to flowering plants.  Fresh herbs in the kitchen brings great fresh flavours to salads, meats and basically any dish being prepared whilst bringing great health benefits to your family too.  Plant herbs like Basil, Mint (important to contain), Tarragon, Sage, Parsley and Lemongrass.  Flowers like Alyssum, Marigolds and Nasturtiums planted among your vegetables as companions will also attract beneficial insects and repel other nasties found in the soil.