How to successfully grow vegetables in summer (in whatever size space you have!)

Want to grow some summer vegetables? Do you already have a few things planted? Here are a few quick tips to help you get your summer growing space in tip-top shape!

First, let us talk about the things you can plant. Here in Charlotte, there is something new you can plant or seed every month of the year – we are so lucky! This month, you can plant ALL the summer things, from tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, melon, summer squash, and zucchini to okra, sweet potatoes, winter squash (like butternut or spaghetti), peanuts, beans, peppers, and eggplant. Now is the time to get it all in the soil.

Second, make sure you give your plants the space they need to grow strong and develop resiliency to pest and disease. Pest and disease are everyone’s least favorite topic to talk about, but it is totally normal (and honestly, to be expected) that your plants will get a pest or disease, especially during the summer. The best first line of defense for your plants? Space.

Vegetable plants start off so small and they grow…SO BIG. It is important to make sure you give them as much space as you can to spread out. Most summer vegetables need two to three feet of space between each plant. This makes the space you have get taken up quickly! Remember, too, that your summer vegetables (and fruit) are prolific producers. So, even if you only have a few plants, your harvests should be bountiful, especially if your plants stay healthy. The main reason we need to give our plants so much space is to improve ventilation. The more airflow that is around your plants, the less likely a bug or fungus spore will be to take residence under your leaves.

Third, consider adding a trellis to your space. Lots of summer vegetables have heavy fruits and not super supportive branches and arms. Sometimes, they need help carrying all that weight! Make a statement with your trellis and splurge on a fancy one, maybe wrought iron, or you can make it super easy and use bamboo stakes and some twine. Find what works for you and your space. All is good. A trellis will add more ventilation and help maximize your growing space, too. Bonus!

One more tip for successful summer growing is to feed your plants. Using an all-natural, organic plant food helps to provide your summer plants with the continued nutrition they need to thrive all season long. Most of our vegetable plants are re-seeding annuals, meaning they grow for a short period of time, usually only three to four months. This makes them grow very intensely and have higher needs than say, a house plant or a landscaping shrub.

Pick up a bag of plant food at your local hardware store or plant store/nursery and get in the habit of feeding your plants monthly. If you want to use a certified organic, locally blended, plant-based plant food for your plants, give me a holler. I source plant food from Windcrest Organics (farm in Monroe, N.C.) for all my clients. You can also visit American Beauty Garden Center on Independence Boulevard to pick up a bag of their Happy Frog Plant Food – it is also a super yummy choice that plants love!

That should be enough to get you started. If you want to dig in more to growing food, give me a shout. I am always here, and love talking about plants.

The Patio Farmer is a small business here in Charlotte that specializes in teaching individuals how to grow food at home. Farmer Erin (Owner/Farmer) is a firm believer that no matter how much (or how little) space you have, you CAN grow food at home! The Patio Farmer offers consultations, installations, custom maintenance plans, and a monthly subscription service called Plant Club to support your green thumb journey.

FB & IG: @thepatiofarmer