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6 Keys to Hot Weather Gardening

If you live in a climate where summer temperatures regularly exceed 90°F, hot weather gardening can be a challenge. Above 95°F, tomato blossom drop can happen, and summer favorites like cucumbers, sweet peppers, and eggplant slow production and become more vulnerable to pests and disease.

The good news is you can take steps to protect your plants and your harvests.

Gathering some information will help you be successful in hot weather gardening:

🔥 Your area’s average high temperatures

🔥 When you can expect the heat to strike

🔥 What temperatures your crops need to thrive

Not sure how hot it gets in your area? You can use Weather Underground’s “Historical Weather” section to learn about weather trends in your area.

All vegetable crops have a temperature sweet spot that supports maximum growth and productivity.

Cool season vegetables are generally leaf and root vegetables that thrive in temperatures between 50 and 70°F. Many can withstand frost, but they slow production and eventually bolt as temperatures climb.

Hot weather crops bear fruit (we call many of them “vegetables”). Summer favorites like tomatoes, peppers, summer squash, mellons, and beans thrive in temperatures between 80 and 90°F. If your high temperatures rarely go above 95°F, you just need to make sure your plants are healthy and watered.

However, if you live in an area that regularly sees temperatures above 95°F, keeping crops cool is key.

Hot weather gardening can be challenging, but just a few measures can keep your plants happy and productive:

  1. Choose crops that can handle the heat. Sweet potatoes, okra, melons, hot peppers, southern peas, and malabar spinach are all great options for hot areas.
  2. Make sure your watering is consistent. Irregular or insufficient watering can stress your plants and make them less resilient in the heat. Sufficient water helps your plants stay healthy and withstand heat.
  3. Provide lots of organic matter with compost. Abundant soil life protects your plants from diseases and makes them more resilient to stress. Soil with high levels of organic matter also holds water better, so you don’t risk losing as much moisture when things heat up.
  4. Interplant to create natural shade in the hottest part of the day. If you orient your garden beds facing West, you can plant tall, heat-loving crops “in front” of other crops to provide shade. Okra grows large with big, broad leaves–like a natural sun canopy that also feeds you!
  5. Space your plants further apart. Biointensive planting has many benefits. But when things heat up, closely spaced plants have to compete more for water and air circulation. Just like you don’t want a long hug on a hot summer day, your plants need a little room to breathe.
  6. Try shade cloth. Shade cloth comes in a variety of densities that provide more or less shade depending on your plants’ needs.

Solving your unique climate and space puzzle takes time, research, and experimentation. Making observations and taking good notes this year can help your garden grow even more next year. And we’re happy to help you learn more along the way!

Join us for our summer series of blogs all about hot weather gardening for bountiful harvests.

Amy Davis
Wordsmith and Client Support

In an age of increasing specialization, Amy proudly calls herself a generalist. She holds a Master’s degree in English, a RYT 200 yoga teacher certification, and is working her way through a bachelor’s in Biology. She believes in nurturing and following curiosity, then taking what you’ve learned and sharing it to better the lives of others.

Amy is an avid chaos gardener and has worked in agriculture for several years. In 2017, she first apprenticed on a Certified Organic vegetable farm and later took over as operations manager there. She also served as greenhouse manager for a local restaurant’s urban farm, and she spent a year in AmeriCorps service to an agriculture nonprofit specializing in education for beginning farmers and gardeners. She has a passion for greenhouse work, and she loves watching tiny little seedlings grow and turn into lunch. Amy and her husband grow an ever-evolving front yard garden in southern Appalachia (apple-atcha).  

Are you experiencing hot weather? Share your hot weather tips in the comment section below!

Creating Eden… or something close

Nature is so powerful. The smallest drips of water can create canyons, a flea can catapult themselves up to 100 times their body length and dandelions can root themselves well, anywhere!

But when it comes to solving human problems with nature, we often think nature can’t help us. We spend trillions of dollars researching, developing, and using human-made options. And some of these are life-saving fabulous technologies.

But what if we open ourselves to the idea that nature could help us solve the challenges we face? How much less pollution would there be? How much less work would we have to spend on doing something nature can already do for us and put all that energy into other aspects of life? That’s exactly what one doctor did… and it saved an entire town.

The year was 1907 and malaria was claiming countless lives. Infectious disease specialist, Dr. Charles Campbell, who recently helped end a typhus outbreak in San Antonio by encouraging the town to line their water supply with cement, was now dedicating himself to solving the malaria epidemic. It was just ten years prior that the transmitters of the parasite causing malaria (the female mosquito of the Anopheles genus) had been discovered. While Quinine was recognized as being able to suppress the disease, it wasn’t curing malaria and it certainly wasn’t preventing it.

Inspiration struck and Dr. Campbell set out to partner with one of the most feared creatures on the planet associated with numerous superstitions that still influence us today—bats.

While his first attempts failed, Dr. Campbell eventually succeeded in colonizing bats in a small community just south of San Antonio where 89% of the small farming community w

as infected with malaria. Here at Lake Mitchell, the mosquito populations were so high that livestock would break down fences just to try to escape the swarms.

The structure built to provide the bat colony with a safe place to roost was finished in 1911 and within two nights of the roost being finished, 250,000 bats had gathered. All the insect netting, insecticides, and draining of marshes people tried to help control the mosquito populations couldn’t do near what this one colony did. The bat colony consumed roughly 750 million mosquitoes per night and by 1913, there wasn’t a single new case of malaria in the area.

That’s the power of partnering with nature. All we have to do is think outside the box, look past our fears and superstitions, believe that it’s possible, and experiment (and maybe fail a few times) to find the path where nature and humanity can walk together to create a healthy environment and a brighter future.

And it’s not just about what we get out of the partnership. While the benefits we receive are great, it’s also about the balance in nature that is allowed to exist when we resolve ourselves to become stewards of nature. In the case of the mosquitos in San Antonio, the mosquito population was completely out of control. And that infestation would have continued to be out of control had Dr. Charles Campbell not thought to walk with one of nature’s most feared and misunderstood creatures or had he given up after his failed attempts.

It’s also about what we learn about nature. Echolocation of bats wasn’t discovered until 1938, but Campbell had commented years prior about the mosquito flight tones impacting a bat’s ability to find their prey with such detail that he had even discovered which notes were in the range of attracting a bat’s attention.

But perhaps more than anything else, it’s about realizing what more might be possible? What kind of garden (metaphorical and literal) can we create if we entertain unconventional ideas and practice questioning all of our assumptions? Maybe not something quite as idyllic as the Garden of Eden, but maybe, just maybe, it could be something close. One thing is certain: there’s a deep partnership with nature waiting to be cultivated and a world of solutions yet to be discovered. Your garden is a whole frontier waiting to be discovered, recognized, and appreciated.

And, while already slightly less practical than our usual blogs, in keeping with the sentimentality, here’s a little shout out to Dr. Charles Campbell, whose life and work are an inspiration to how we can work with nature to create a happier, healthier, and a balanced planet.

Do you partner with nature in your garden? Share a time when you learned the power of partnering with mother nature in the comment section below!

The Perpetual Harvest Hack: How to Grow A Continual Harvest of Fresh Food All Year Long Without Losing Your Mind Doing It

Paul Dysinger
Seedtime

Paul Dysinger is the co-founder of Seedtime. Together with his Dad Edwin they design ground breaking garden/farm planning software and teach thousands of people from around the world how to grow their own nutrient dense food at home.

Paul and Edwin, are 2022 Superfood Garden Summit presenters.
“The Superfood Perpetual Harvest Hack”

You know, I could probably start this post out by writing some fancy introduction or story or something…

But something is telling me, how about we jump straight to the chase? What do you think?

You game?

Ok, here goes…

How would you like a perpetual harvest of fresh veggies out of your garden every single week of the year (or greatly extending your growing season)?

I’m talking about fresh lip-smacking tomatoes, cucumbers, and melons during the summer, crunchy leaf lettuce and spinach in the fall, buttery Brussels sprouts with some powerful cabbage salad in the winter, and then back to spring peas, carrots, or beets.

It’s like replacing your grocery store with fresh food directly out of your backyard (think dollar signs!).

Or turning your garden into your living refrigerator.

Does that sound cool or what?!

The problem is… to pull off a perpetual harvest can be a little complex unless you have a good system to do it with.

Let me explain.

Have you ever heard of succession planting? Or I like to call it leapfrog planting.

See, the key with a continual harvest is that you need to always have something growing in the garden – all the time.

And every plant has its own life cycle.

There’s a time to seed it. It grows. And then it’s harvest time.

Eventually harvest time ends (different for each crop) and the cycle starts over.

This means that if you’re going to effectively plan a continual harvest in your garden you’ll need to understand the following:

  1. You’ve got to figure out when to plant your first crop
  2. Then how long before it will be harvested
  3. How long of a harvest window you can expect from it
  4. And then when to plant the second “leapfrog” or succession crop so that it is ready to go in when the first crop is harvested so you keep that garden space occupied
  5. Plus figure out how long in the season each crop can be grown (is it a warm season or cold season crop?)
  6. And then repeat that for every crop because they are all different

If you think that’s a little complex or overwhelming – you aren’t alone.

In fact, how in the world are you going to keep track of that for 20+ different crops, line them up, arrange them so they stagger after each other, all year long – without going crazy or losing your mind?

Yikes!

The good news is that there is a way. And we call it our Perpetual Harvest Hack.

See, back in the day my Dad Edwin and I made a bit of a rash promise to our gardening students when we told them that we would give them custom weekly checklists of what to do in their gardens based on their current locations.

We soon discovered that was a lot bigger of a task than we bargained for and none of the gardening tools we could find really made it much easier.

Granted, there are some tools out there to help know when to seed your crops in the spring or fall, like Johnny’s Seed Starting Calculator (here’s the fall version) or Away to Garden’s Seed Starting Calculator.

In fact, Johnny’s even has a succession planting spreadsheet.

But none of these really made it easy. Let alone automate a way we could give our students weekly checklists of what to do in their areas.

But a promise is a promise. So after intensive research we finally pulled off turning some massive gardening spreadsheets into our first simple Click ’N Drop Gardening Calendars.

And when we first showed them to our students – let’s just say they went crazy…
I’ve never seen gardeners so excited about anything in my entire life.

But the problem was, though our first calendars were one of the best products on the market, they weren’t fully customizable. And while they made planning a year-round garden easy, they were generic.

Our students needed something better. They needed a gardening plan they could personalize.

Which brings us to what we call our “Perpetual Harvest Hack”.

Or in other words we call it – Seedtime.

Seedtime is the first garden planner (that we know of) that makes it extremely easy to visualize exactly when to seed, transplant, and harvest crops in your garden all year long – based on your local area.

Which means when it comes to a continual harvest, there’s finally a way to line up all those plantings without crazy spreadsheets or headaches.

Let’s take lettuce as an example.

If you’re wanting a continual harvest of lettuce, you can quickly and easily drop your first planting into the calendar.

Then with a couple clicks you can drop in a succession planting a couple weeks later.

Throw these onto the timeline view and you can easily get a quick big picture of when each planting is going to be seeded and approximately when you can expect to be harvesting from them.

You can then repeat that process to add more plantings…

Or, if you’re dealing with a specific location in the garden you can change it up a bit.

Let’s say you want your second planting of lettuce to be ready to transplant into the garden when the first one is done harvesting.

Before, you’d have to manually calculate the days to maturity and harvest window, then backtrack about four weeks before the first planting is done harvesting to set the seeding date of your second planting so that it’ll be ready to transplant when the first crop is done.

Wow… that was complicated just trying to type that out.

But now, you can simply click and drag the transplanting task of your second lettuce planting and move it to the week after your first planting should be done harvesting – and everything else will automatically adjust.

Sweet!

That’s the power of click ’n drop garden planning.

And get this, you can do this with literally any crop! In fact, you don’t even have to follow one crop with the same one – you can follow the first crop with a different one.

Let’s take peas and green beans as an example.

Peas like cool weather so it is best to grow them in the spring. And when they are done harvesting, it is often a great time to plant a crop of green beans.

Just line up the seeding times and with a few clicks your schedule is set up.

But it gets even better!

Once you have your garden plantings setup, you can jump over to a weekly or daily task list that automatically compiles from your garden plan.

That’s what we call a game changer.

Now staying on track in your garden is as easy as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

And that’s not to mention the fact that you can click on the tasks in your task list for a quick description of what to do, how to do it, and links to visual demonstration or training videos showing/telling you how to get each task done like a pro.

So if your mind is spinning right now… just know that this is the tip of the iceberg.

There’s a lot more you can do with Seedtime than I can fit into this one blog post.

But the key takeaway here is this:

If you want a continual harvest out of your garden – it just got a whole lot easier.

Your garden matters. Your family matters. Your health matters. And we’re on a mission to make it so much easier for you to focus on the fun parts of gardening without getting bogged down with all the planning/organizing tasks that can be such a chore.

In fact, if you throw in some simple protection methods like a quick hoop with a row cover or two, you can drastically extend your season or grow all year round in many places.

So are you ready to knock it out of the park this season?

Let’s get that perpetual harvest growing so you can replace the grocery store with your garden.

At the time of writing this, Seedtime isn’t open to the public yet. But if you want to get started with your own free account – here’s a special invitation link where we’re inviting Grow Your Own Vegetable readers to get early access:

Get your free Seedtime account here

You’ll get full access to everything for 14 days and then will automatically continue at the Free Forever plan level – or you’ll have the opportunity to upgrade if one of the higher plans fits your needs better.

Here’s to your success and a continual harvest of lip-smacking fresh veggies out of your very own backyard!

Wow! Go check out Seedtime, set up your FREE account, and share your insights here!

Superfood Garden Summit Sponsor: GARDEN TOWER

Indoor gardening for BIG harvests

There’s a tool we want to share that is especially useful if you…

♥ Don’t have a lot of space to plant
♥ You want to have a garden that can grow food year round

You see gardening in a tiny space teaches you a lot… but it can also be challenging!

♥ You never feel like you can grow EVERYTHING you want!
♥ You wonder if your plants are getting enough sunlight, nutrients, or water to get the harvest you saw on the seed packet.
♥ It’s easy to feel a little envious when one of your friends posts a picture of their full, lush garden planted in 4 raised beds in their backyard.

We know all those feelings…
But what we want to show you today solves a LOT of these issues.
It lets you take small-plot growing to a whole new level (and we love it!):

♥ You can grow over 50 different, individual plants and vegetables in just 4 sq. feet! That’s less space than most coat closets.
♥ You can grow indoors or outdoors however you like. Perfect for growing year round in any climate!
♥ This tool lets you vermicompost right inside your garden! No need to move compost around or waste food scraps. Plus all those wonderful vermicompost nutrients end up right in your food!
♥ You’ll be able to use this tool for years to come… it lasts for up to 12 years even in harsh climates.
♥ It’s 100% safe for the environment and your family (no BPA or PVC toxins leaching into your foods)!

So what is this tool we are so excited to show you?

It’s the Garden Tower 2 from our friends over at the Garden Tower Project.

 

Save the Bee Logo

It is actually one of the Grow Your Own Vegetables Team’s favorite gardening products!

Yes, it does look a little strange… but the harvests from your garden tower will definitely make your mouth water! 😋

AND here’s the cherry tomato on top. We talked to the Garden Tower folks and asked if they could get YOU a special deal since you’re a Grow Your Own Vegetables reader… They said YES!

As a sponsor of our Superfood Garden Summit, they’re willing to give you a special discount on your next Garden Tower. Go Here to see their offer.

The Garden Tower Project makes all their garden towers right in the USA. So they are able to keep up with all the people new to gardening! 

Part of the reason we like it so much is that it is simple to use. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an experienced gardener. It’s easy to set up and only takes 6 cu. feet of soil to fill completely. Then you just add water, compost scraps, and worms as needed.

Go check Out Our Favorite Product, The Garden Tower 2

Who knows… maybe you’ll be sharing YOUR huge harvest from your Garden Tower in our Facebook group soon! 🍅🌱🍆🍠

Superfood Garden Summit is happy to have the Garden Tower Project as a Summit Sponsor.

This article contains links to a product that we are a referral partner for. If you click and take action, Grow Your Own Vegetables LLC may be compensated. We only recommend products that we love and that we know can be helpful to you as a gardener.

Have you been enjoying the Superfood Garden Summit? Share your take-a-ways with us!

Why You WANT Pests in Your Garden

That’s right, you heard correctly. You want to have some pests in the garden. It seems counterproductive to knowingly harbor these food criminal masterminds 😂. But there’s a good reason you might want to knowingly be an accomplice.

“…if you have no pests, then the beneficials won’t have any food. If there’s no food available, your garden protectors aren’t going to stick around and your garden will be left exposed to infestations.” 

When we think of the living creatures in our garden, we like to simplify them into two categories: pests and beneficials. This oversimplification can actually hurt our gardens and prevent us from reaching our goals. With a black and white mentality, there’s often only one goal: eradicate the pests.

But if you have no pests, then the beneficials won’t have any food. If there’s no food available, your garden protectors aren’t going to stick around and your garden will be left exposed to infestations. So a small pest population can help keep your beneficials around, minimizing crop loss.

Plus, trying to eliminate pests is exhausting! If you’ve ever seen a grower weaving in and out of the garden waving a dust buster in the air, then you know exactly what I mean (not that I’ve ever done that… 🤫😂).

So instead of trying to eliminate the pests all on your own and ending up exhausted and feeling like you have no choice but to result to sprays and dusts (yes, even organic ones are harmful), it can help to switch your mindset. Instead of asking how to get rid of the pest, ask yourself what beneficial species would love to be invited to a feast! Then your garden doesn’t just feed you, it feeds the garden protectors too.

By approaching your garden journey from a space of sharing, you’ll be honing in on what it means to be a steward of the land and your chances of getting the abundance you want from your garden increases. Meanwhile, the effort you have to put in to get all that fresh food decreases. That’s a win for everyone! The pest population is allowed to eat a little, the beneficials have plenty of food, and you can cross dust busting the garden off your list! You’ll be utilizing the laws of nature to benefit everyone.

Now, this doesn’t mean never taking action if you get an infestation. On the contrary, if you notice a crop competitor coming for your food, you’ll absolutely want to act. But if the action is just you having to directly deal with the pest, you’re putting more work on yourself than you need now, and in the long run. Because you can dust bust those pests all day long, but eventually, they’ll be back. When they come, you’ll want to have a strong ecosystem in place so that you don’t have to do all the work by yourself. So you’ll want to take actions to create a strong ecosystem.

It takes diversity in a garden to create a strong ecosystem and abundance in the garden. Diversity helps establish a balanced ecosystem. Less diversity encourages imbalance and fragility of the whole system. Mono-crop farms are a perfect example of this. In mono-crop farming, only one crop is planted. This then draws the pests that attack that specific plant. With no plant diversity or crop rotation, there’s nothing to deter that pest population. So you’ll want more than just one or two species of beneficials to help ensure you’re always ready if a pest decides they’re going to try to overpopulate and take over.

Which beneficials you’ll want will depend on what’s happening in your garden. That’s a topic for another blog. The important thing to remember is that the first step in getting more fresh food with less effort is to switch your thinking from pests being something bad you have to eliminate, to them being an offering for your beneficial guests.

Have you ever used beneficials successfully?
Have you tried to use beneficials but failed?
Are you new to the gardening world and want to create a healthy, thriving ecosystem?

Share your beneficial stories, comments and questions in the comment section below!