There’s nothing quite like picking fresh fruit and veg straight from the garden, especially during summer when the daylight hours are longer. Growing your own vegetables is the healthiest, most cost-effective, sustainable way to consume vegetables.
Melbournians are well aware of the dry, summer heat that December brings when summer hits. Understanding how to plant, care for and sustain your vegetables at home plays a major role in the success of your harvest. Summer vegetables show delight in being exposed to sun lit areas, just as long as their soil remains moist.
Cucumbers are an easy-care, versatile vegetable that thrives in moderate climates (like Melbourne) when placed in a warm, sunny position. If you live in an area where you’re exposed to really hot summers then a little shade (around 30% – 50%) never goes astray and will help your cucumbers to thrive. A simple shade covering or sheet should do the trick.
Companion planting is the process of planting different species of plants together based on their ability to enhance one another’s growth. Cucumbers need to be kept off the ground to prevent diseases, and corn and sunflowers act as a perfect natural trellis for cucumber vines. As far as soil goes, cucumbers need loose, well drained soil full of organic matter, especially compost.
Important tip: Don’t let cucumbers get too large before harvesting them as it can ruin the taste and cause them to taste quite bitter.
Tomatoes are known for being the most popular home-grown vegetable of all time due to their versatility and fresh taste. Tomatoes picked straight off the vine and eaten fresh are incomparable to store bought tomatoes. For those reading who are thinking about growing their own vegetable garden at home, we suggest you begin by planting your tomato seedlings – you won’t regret it.
When it comes to positioning your tomatoes it’s important to remember that your tomatoes love direct sunlight and should be positioned in your planter accordingly. They’re also known to be heavy feeders, making it imperative that the soil is properly prepared to ensure optimal growth. This can be accomplished through the addition of compost or bone meal to provide the extra nutrients that this plant needs.
Unfortunately, one of the downsides of tomatoes is that they’re often prone to diseases – which is why establishing good ventilation for your tomato plant is vital to their health. By staking and pruning the laterals (side roots) of your tomato you’ll allow for more air to flow through the plant. Tomatoes like to be watered thoroughly, and the soil to be moist at all times.
Have you enjoyed learning about the best vegetables to plant in summer? Why not check our blog on The Best Vegetables to Grow During Autumn in Melbourne.
Also known as bell peppers, capsicums reach their full potential during summer, although it’s important to keep them covered from the afternoon sun to prevent their fruit from getting burnt.
As with any vegetable, it’s important for the soil to be rich in nutrients, often requiring the addition of compost and or well-rotted manure to provide extra nutrients. This also helps to assist with water retention and keeping your capsicums moist during those dry summer days.
Capsicums require excellent drainage, so if your garden is prone to waterlogging then it’s best to try planting in pots or raised beds instead. If you’re growing your capsicums from seedlings then we recommend sowing seeds in a tray or punnet first, which can then be moved into a planter when they’re about 10cm tall.
These nutritious little veggies typically need a fairly long growing season to produce a good harvest (around 80-120 days) to reach full maturity. The earlier your sweet potatoes get into the ground the bigger your harvest will be.
Sweet potatoes are typically one of the easier vegetables to grow during summer but they require a few fundamentals to really grow well. This includes well dug, compost rich soil, and a proper drainage system. Even though sweet potatoes can happily tolerate dry heat and soil, they prefer to be regularly watered and kept moist.
Eggplants can’t stand the cold which is what makes them the perfect summer garden essential. Their aversion to the cold means positioning them somewhere where there’s a lot of sunlight hits and preferably space, will reward you with healthy, hardy vegetables.
Fun fact: did you know that eggplants and tomatoes are actually related? This means they thrive best on a similar watering and care schedule. Eggplants require compost rich soil that’s kept moist at all times.
Vegetables thrive best in sunny locations, which is why summer is the perfect time to start growing your green thumb and investing time into creating your own veggie patch at home. Year-round gardening requires a lot of work but the reward is rich and the benefits are never ending.