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Summer Garden Tips for Southern California
Your summer garden should be giving you more produce than you can eat, but growing in the summer can be challenging. The weather in summer gardens in some areas of Southern California can be unforgiving with heat and hot, dry winds. With global temperatures rising, we must focus on the things we can do to minimize water waste and keep our plants healthy, happy, and producing throughout the summer.
Pro Tips for Your Summer Garden
Our number one recommendation for new gardeners growing a summer garden is to add mulch or compost to retain moisture in the soil. Healthy, well-balanced soil will hold more moisture than soil that lacks organic matter. Throughout the winter, your goal should be to add as much organic matter (compost) to the garden so that it can break down and work like a sponge in the garden during the summer. If you slacked on that this past winter, don’t worry, there are other things you can do. You can add straw (not hay) to your garden to work as mulch. Straw can be pulled back and moved to the compost pile in the winter. Mulch or compost will keep the soil moist and cool during our hot days in the summer garden.
Knowing How Often to Water Your Summer Garden
Knowing how often to water your garden is something that takes time and observation to figure out. The watering rates in your garden can vary vastly from our garden, depending on soil structure, shade, and other factors. Here are some summer garden tips on how to water correctly:
- Water deeply, infrequently, and early in the morning. Watering in a manner that allows the moisture to go deep in the soil will prevent it from drying out too quickly. What this means is watering by drip irrigation or letting your hose saturate the veggie garden.
- To do this, place the hose on the soil in the garden and let it slowly drip into the ground. Watering in this manner also prevents water runoff and waste. By watering in the morning, you will avoid excessive evaporation from the sun’s harsh rays.
Keep Your Garden Cool
There are many ways to reduce the temperature in your garden by a few degrees and significantly help your plants. One way is to pull back on pruning so that the plant’s leaves can shade the ground and protect fruits from sunscald.
Allow for a bit more foliage growth on your tomatoes. If you follow any of our advice, you know we advise that growers prune tomatoes for maximum efficiency. As the days get hotter, you can begin to pull back on your pruning, allowing the plant to shade itself and its fruit from sunscald.
Use Shade Cloth
Invest in shade cloth. Shade cloth is an excellent investment in your garden. Shade cloth extends your growing season and keeps soil cooler. You can shade your tender transplants or give delicate crops a break from the harsh sun. Keep in mind shade cloth comes in a range of UV protection, and 40-50% is ideal for vegetable production.