Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A simple summer garden in the south

I always see people ready to give up veggie gardening during the summer here and I cant blame them seeing as how your big box stores are still selling lettuce, kale, cabbage, and other things that there is NO WAY we could grow during the summer, anytime I see that I give up post I try to step in and help out.

The advice I give is to create a simple garden using easy to learn techniques. Ill lay out my simple to follow garden plan..

~ Create or clear out a 4x8 garden bed in morning sun and if possible afternoon shade if not never fear

~ Plant a papaya or moringa in the middle of the bed

~ Plant 1 sweet potato slip in each of the 4 corners (this keeps the roots far enough away from the papaya/moringa roots you can harvest without harming the tree)

~ Plant a mix of starts: cherry tomatoes, cowpeas, bush beans, Japanese eggplant, sweet peppers, and/or hot peppers.
(try to not plant any of the same plant next to one another)

~Mulch with straw at least 3 inches and more like 5

~ Soak the new garden bed for at least 10 minutes

~ Set up some kinda shade cloth on your west facing side for the first couple weeks until your new garden is adjusted

Why do you do this?

The tree (papaya or moringa) provides dappled shade and food
The peas and beans add nitrogen to the soil
The sweet potatoes will give you sweet potatoes but also act as a ground cover (the leaves are great in summer salads as well)
Cherry tomatoes are the best tomato to grow during the summers
Jap. Eggplant are small and skinny and produce in abundance and quicker then a large eggplant
Sweet and Hot peppers dont really mind the heat as long as the stay moist and have cool soil (the mulch)
The bush beans are the only bean I have found that may tolerate the summer so plant a bunch (they can be planted as close as 2 inches from each other) and dont be heartbroken if these dont adjust

Everything works together to compete with the summer sun and heat!!!


  1. I know we are not in the midst of the heat yet, but I also under planted the tomatoes with the leafy greens, like lettuce arugula and so on. I hope the tomato's will provide enough shade for them during the heat. I like the idea of going tall the middle of the bed. That way you have shade for herbs and plants that find the heat harder to tolerate. Why is it important to mix? (you said try not to plant the same things next to each other?

  2. All plants take different nutrients from the soil and add things back into the soil, by planting different plants next to each other they work in harmony without depleting the soil, when you plant all one crop next to each other the plants must fight each other for the nutrients found in the ground which means you need to fertilize more, etc and you have stunted plants...

    If you look in nature there are many different plants all over you may see a patch of one type of plant if you get down and look there are actually many other plants in there (we would think of them as weeds)we want to mimic nature as best we can so we mix our plants and allow nature to take care of nature. Simple wonderful harmony!

  3. WOW, awesome veggie gardening advice! You should write a book, hahaha. Simple, yet VERY effective tactics.

    -Oscar Valencia