Summer in Our Kitchen Garden
We’re getting creative with zucchinis, loving the beans, and can’t get enough tomatoes.
It’s summer in the garden and we love it. Find reminders, tips and inspiration for your kitchen garden right here on the Garden Clinic website.
Sandra in the veggie patch. Photo - Luisa Brimble
These pint-sized watermelon-lookalikes taste like sour, lemony cucumbers and are irresistibly cute. Grow the high yielding vines close together, 15cm apart, on a trellis, as you would cucumbers. They they will reach 1.5m high. Pick when the fruit is the size of a grape and firm. Use with olives, pickle with dill as for cucumbers, or pop one in a refreshing martini after a hard slog in the garden.
Pint-sized watermelon-lookalikes, cucamelons
Rosella, Hibiscus sabdariffa, flowers in summer with pink hibiscus-like flowers, and then a red-wine coloured calyx forms around the seedpod. We make jam from the calyx and our jam-making day have gone much more smoothly since we learned to remove the calyx with an apple corer!
Rosella time! Photo - Egg and seed blog
Sprouting broccoli, superior in every way to normal broccoli, is our go-to winter veg. Each plant grows 1.5m high, providing a constant harvest of broccolini-like stems for months. Sow seeds of either the purple or green form in pots now. Keep under shade, ready for autumn planting.
Side dressings of vegetable fertiliser will help to nourish vegetables, especially if you forgot to dig some in before planting!
Even planting spots that were well-prepared with compost and manures in spring will benefit from fortnightly liquid fertiliser through summer to offer easy-access nutrients for tomatoes, cucumbers, capsicums and eggplants. Store-bought fertilisers are quick and easy to use, with known and consistent nutrient levels, but if you need to keep costs down make your own.
Spray tomatoes with a liquid feed fortnightly. Homemade comfrey tea is perfect!
Fertilise passionfruit with citrus food.
While you have the citrus food out, give lemons their seasonal feed.
Feed the worms to keep the worm wee coming, and move the worm farm into summer shade to make sure they don’t cook in the hot sun.
Feed up those passionfruit with citrus food. Photo - SOMMAI / Shutterstock
Watch out for, and nurture, tomatoes popping up from compost – they usually bear the most fruit!
Don’t overwater tomatoes or they’ll split and taste watery.
There are plenty of nontoxic ways to control fruit fly. We use two or three together. Hang up fruit fly lures such as Eco-Lure, Nature’s Way or Cera Trap or use Richgro’s Naturally Based Fruit Fly Spray.
Treat herb pots and vegetable beds with a soil wetting agent, such as Eco-hydrate, to improve water penetration.
Top up mulch to a depth of 5cm. We keep a small stick handy, marked at 5cm, to periodically check depths while we do this job. Mulch too thinly and weeds won’t be suppressed. Mulch too thickly and water won’t get down where it’s needed. Use rice, pea, straw or lucerne hay.
The gardeners summer reward, a productive veggie garden. Photo - Robin Powell
Plant another wigwam of tomato/bean/cucumber in early summer to extend the bounty well into March-April.
Plant blue and purple flowering plants such as borage, lavender, rosemary and salvia in the vegetable patch to attract bees, increase pollination and boost your harvest.
In cool and temperate areas, sow extra zucchini and French beans and mixed lettuce. Add baby beetroots and radishes and herbs such as basil, dill and mint.
In tropical and sub-tropical zones, plant capsicum, eggplant, cucumber, pumpkin, sweetcorn and melons.
Jump-start broccolini, cabbage and cauliflower by sowing seeds in late summer. Protect them on hot days.
Plant lettuce in the shade of other veg to protect them from intense summer sun. Too late? On heat-wave days erect shade structures from bamboo canes and shade cloth; pillowslips held in place with pegs; muslin wraps; or even a beach umbrella.