Caring for your summer vegie garden

Follow all our top tips on caring for your vegetable patch this summer.

Caring for your summer vegie garden

You’ve sown your seed, raised your seedlings and planted your summer crops. Tomatoes are flowering, some may even be fruiting, and the promise of sun-kissed vine ripened produce is just around the corner ... but so too is summer. Don’t let all that hard work go to waste. Here’s a few pointers to keep your garden lush and productive through the heat of summer. 

Summer is very different depending on where you live in Australia. In the north, it’s wet and humid, down south it’s hot and dry. How you treat your garden will be very different depending on where you live. 

UP NORTH

1. Nutrients - The Wet is a difficult season because nutrients are leached from the soil almost as quickly as they are applied. For many plants, it’s a feast or famine of resources. Using an organic mulch, like legumes or aged manure, is ideal as it releases nutrients as it decomposes. 

Supplementary applications of pelletised organic fertilisers will also help to keep plants healthy during this time. 

2. Crop Protection - Netting may be necessary to stop local wildlife reaping the rewards of your efforts, but always ensure it is pegged tightly to stop birds and animals becoming trapped in the loose netting. 

3. Observation – Walk around the garden daily to harvest any produce that is ready and pull weeds. This really is the easiest way to stay on top of your gardens needs, while also enjoying the beauty you have created. 

DOWN SOUTH

1. Mulch – Drying winds and scorching sun quickly dehydrates the soil and your plants. Apply a layer of mulch at least 7mm deep to help reduce evaporation from the soil. Use an organic mulch to improve the health of your soil and plants as it breaks down over the summer and autumn.

2. Water - Watering is critical over this time. An automatic irrigation system can save you hours of time at the end of a hose, but most importantly, can save your plants if you plan on taking a holiday away from your home. 

If hand watering, avoid wetting the foliage or splashing the hose around. Instead, focus water onto the root zone and try to water each plant a little longer than you would normally. This should allow you to have more time off between watering and help to drought-proof your garden by encouraging plants to develop a stronger, more adventurous root system. 

Watering should be confined to the early hours or late afternoon. Never water in the heat of the day as this can do more harm than good. 

3. Seaweed Treatments – While seaweed is not a fertiliser, it is a very versatile plant tonic. Apply as a diluted liquid over the foliage of your vegies every 2-3 weeks, or as required based on plant condition and the weather, to help plants become more resistant to extremes of weather as well as pests. 

ALL AREAS

Most importantly, enjoy the produce you have grown. Wander your garden to draw inspiration for home grown breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Savour the flavour of your crops, their freshness and maybe their unlikely beauty. Take comfort in knowing you are not only maximising the nutrient profile of the vegies you are eating because they are fresh from garden to table, but you are also doing your part to minimise food 'miles'. You know exactly what has been applied to each of the crops you pick for your table and that any 'waste' can be composted and returned to the soil. 

The harvest is a celebration and sharing it with friends and family makes it all the better. 

Happy holiday. 

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