Summer Garden Tips

garden tomato


Keeping up with the summer garden is always interesting, you hope the harvest coincides with your travel schedule — there’ve been frantic days just before leaving where I’m more concerned with freezing peaches than packing.

garden peaches

This summer, we have the added gift of this blasted drought matched with hotter weather. Thankfully, the recent foggy mornings are a blessing as far as the garden goes, but makes for rather depressing beach weather.

santa barbara

Fog looming. This is looking south towards Summerland.

Here are some of the tasks around the garden that have kept things growing as the summer rolls along — we’re at the halfway mark for the kids going back to school, how in the hell did that happen??

summer garden

My lemon cucumbers are getting an F on their report card.

Mulch is a great garden multi-tasker. A good 3-4 inch layer of mulch in these hot summer months will help to insulate the soil, making a cooler environment for your plants.  Mulch also minimizes erosion, weeds and moisture loss, translating into less watering. I’m not a fan of wood chips for mulch, especially for the roses and veggie garden. Aphids, spider mites and other pests tend to hide beneath those big pieces of bark.

rose garden

Harvest Supreme is a good organic mulch that you can find at many nurseries. In Santa Barbara, Progressive Tree and Landscape has a good mulch service — it is sold in bulk and they’ll deliver. We’ve used their Agri-Chip Fine Screened Garden Mulch with good results.

garden tomato

The training of the tomatoes continues with the goal of training them to grow up and not out (now, if I could figure out that system for myself!). We pull off the suckers and add garden twine to the posts to hold them up as they grow taller. In our coastal climate it’s not too late to add tomatoes. I’ll add some each month throughout the summer, moving to the bigger varieties like Celebrity and Better Boy. If the weather doesn’t go haywire you’ll have tomatoes to harvest for Halloween!

garden basil

I recently added in more fresh basil, my first round was quick to bolt earlier in the season. I’m going to prune this batch back if they bolt. The pruning should force them to leaf more and flower less, making for big bushy plants.

replanting geraniums

This is a good time to divide and move plants. Tubers (like begonias) and geraniums can be cut and replanted fairly easily with great results.

I’m going to try to do the same with this little bunch of Dusty Miller leftover from recent floral arrangements. The plan is to stick these sprigs in the garden and cross my fingers it will grow.

dusty miller


The prolific summer garden means I can bump up my harvesting from once a week to twice a week. Tuesday and Friday are my usual harvest days. I always feature my harvest haul on Instagram. (Mom, you need to get your Instagram account set up!) Sticking to a schedule helps to clear out the garden, plan meals and make room to plant more!


How’s your summer garden shaping up?