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If you’re anything like me and live in a warm climate, by the time summer hits you’ll just want to give your veggie patch all away. The summer garden means the bugs move in, keeping up with the watering is a full time job and things get suffer from severe sun stress. You can read here about how much I hate summer in my veggie patch.
In warm climates, summer can be the equivalent of those who experience extreme low temperatures in the depths of winter. You just give up and go inside (in front of the air con instead of by the fireplace).
Whilst a good solution in your garden beds is to rest them, do a green manure crop and prepare for your autumn plantings, sometimes you do still need to put food on the table.
What to plant in your summer garden?
Over the years I’ve discovered a few things that will grow so it doesn’t seem like such a waste of space. Here are my top picks.
Some people are on the fence about the value of a old faithful eggplant, I love them because they are so versatile. Chuck them in a curry, use them as replacement pasta sheets in a lasagne or grill them on a BBQ. In our climate (sub tropical) I find them so easy to grow and somehow seem to be resilient to the good old fruit fly that we experience here in South East Queensland, Australia. Best of all these guys are perfect in pots – so if you’re limited on space they will work wonderfully and still product an abundance of fruit. The only main issue I get with these guys is a bit of scale, which can be dealt with a bit of dishwashing liquid and a high pressure hose (or rub them off with your fingers).
My favourite varieties are the Lebanese ones (long skinny) as they are easy to just slice up and throw into dishes. I am also partial to the some of the varieties that you don’t get in the shops such as the Fairy Tale eggplant (pictured below).
Over the years my corn has been a bit hit and miss. If you’re lacking on space it’s not going to be the best choice as you need at least 9 plants to successfully pollinate and hence create the corn kernels. When the husk forms and the silks spill out, every single piece of silk needs to receive some pollen, which means you need a lot planted next to each other and hope they all flower at once.
Whilst these guys are generally safe from fruit fly, you do need to look out for the odd caterpillar who will bore his way through and eat all your corn cobs. Sometimes you wont even know until you pick the corn.
If you like a bit of spice in your life, you can’t go past a good chilli plant. We plant heaps of these guys in our summer garden as they do handle the heat extremely well.
As for fruit fly though, like capsicums, they are an easy target so keep them covered or prepare to pick your chillis green.
Like the eggplant these are perfect for pots.
I usually let my main summer garden bed go with the sweet potato. It seriously just takes over and by the end of summer you dig it all up and receive a bounty of goodies.
I’ve had epidemics of caterpillars on the leaves but it has never seemed to affect the end harvest. Usually the next year I’ll get another crop from left over potatoes that I failed to find.
Traditional bush beans I admit I don’t have much luck with in my summer garden. They tend to fall prey to a host of diseases (rust in particular) due to our humidity.
Snake beans on the other hand are amazing. This is my first season and I haven’t had any issues with pests (yet) on these guys, and one bean could fill you up they are that huge.
Get an Aquaponics system!
If you’re seriously over watering your garden and would rather just be at the beach, then I definitely recommend getting an aquaponics system. Since we’ve installed ours we’ve tripled our backyard veggie production and halved the time we spend in the garden. We don’t need to water it as the water cycles through, we don’t have to weed, we just feed the fish and harvest. And yes you can eat the fish!!
In our system we have Jade perch that are nearing on the 40cm mark (which we really need to start eating) and our new system we’ve just put in some Barramundi which will hopefully be ready for eating next May.
If you’d like to know more about setting up your own aquaponics system get in touch.