Wouldn’t it be nice if you could grow a vegetable garden without making mistakes?
It’s not quite that simple, however advice for the gardening season is always a good thing. A lot of gardeners are super excited to plan a garden in the spring, then weeds, vacations, heat or lack of enthusiasm kick in. How do you maintain that garden passion all summer long?
These tips are more than your beginner gardening tips. I’ve shared those tips before, these vegetable gardening tips are for those that have an established garden and want some advice for a production or successful season even if you’re busy.
10 Vegetable Garden Tips for a Successful Season
- Choose the right crops for that season. Do you have a vacation planned in the middle of the summer? Will your beans need to be harvested then and become wasted? Think about what your summer will bring before choosing your plants. Certain crops need to be harvested frequently like beans, zucchini or peas. Some veggies are harvest early summer, others towards the end. If you know you won’t be around to harvest plants consider planting crops that can stay in the ground for longer like lettuce or root vegetables. If you’re busy you also don’t want to over-plant certain veggies that you won’t use. Plant what you’ll eat for the best success! Learn more about choosing the right crops for your garden.
- Get a water timer or water early. We’re all SO busy. One day of forgetting to water plants on a summer morning can mean your garden suffers in just one day. Plant stress is never a good thing! Get a water timer so that your garden waters itself. Be sure to check the battery every couple of weeks. You also want to water early before the heat of the day. Most areas with drought will have water restrictions where you cannot water during certain times (because most of the water is evaporated and wasted). Other times (often in the spring) you might get weeks of rain forecasted and not need the timer or to water yourself.
- Mulch or keep up with weeding. This is one thing that can be hard to do when you’re enjoying summer beach days or BBQs. Just like doing a little house cleaning everyday makes it not pile up, doing 10 mins of weeding a day allows your garden better success. I like to mulch the garden paths early in the spring to reduce some of the weeds. If you can’t keep up with weeding as often as you need to, consider hiring someone or trading for their time to weed. You can sometimes find people willing to trade weeding for fresh veggies! You can also mulch in-between your rows of vegetables. I also like to grow polyculture garden beds that have small plants inter-planted around larger ones reducing space for weeds to grow.
- Consider companion planting. Once you’ve been gardening for a couple of seasons, you can start to learn what plants grow better together. For example onions grow great with the brassicas or tomatoes, but not with beans, peas and other legumes. See some companion planting examples or learn about great herbs or flowers to grow to deter pests.
- Use vertical gardening space. There are so many wonderful ways to grow food upwards. It takes up less space in the garden and makes your garden look fantastic. Great plants to grow upwards include cucumbers, small squash, beans, peas, flower vines like nasturtiums. Here’s some inspiration for pretty use of vertical space and you can enjoy these garden trellis ideas.
- Plant beneficial flowers with your vegetables. Not only do flowers make your garden look pretty and you can use them as cut flowers, many have other benefits. From nasturtiums deterring aphids from your plants, to increasing pollination rates on plants like zucchini. We love to add marigolds, cosmos, zinnias, cornflowers and I tend to plant dahlias just for the beauty of them. Flowers like cosmos bloom for most of the summer and can handle drought too.
- Remember those soil amendments. Some beginner gardens are a success because they used good soil and compost that season. The following fall or spring you need to keep adding soil amendments depending on what you’re growing. This takes some practice and time to learn, but certain plants require more nutrients than others. Heavy feeders include tomatoes, corn, broccoli, cauliflower. Other plants like many roots or legumes require less nutrients. You can practice crop rotation to reduce the soil amendments needed, or look into your gardening books or seed catalogs which offer than information. Learn what are the easiest to hardest plants to grow.
- Keep organized with a garden journal. Every season is different and it helps to record those differences. From weather, pests, to getting the wrong or right sowing dates for your plants. Keeping a record of your garden can help you troubleshoot problems for next season. It can also help you notice weather trends for your local area. The past few years for example, we’ve had drought in B.C causing the sun to get blocked out at the end of summer. That’s reduced our warm season crops ability to ripen but also offered cooler weather to plant our fall crops. You can also keep detailed planting schedules in the springtime with some organization. Check out my printable garden planner here if you’d like some help to stay organized.
- Check the weather frequently. When you grow a vegetable garden you are at the mercy of the weather. Although most weather forecasts can be quite wrong, other times they’re right. There is usually a trend for the week such as heat and no rain or cooler weather. You can make some small changes depending on this weather that day or week. If you have cool season crops that might bolt with the heat, you could pull out the shade cloth to offer them some reprieve. If an early frost is expected in the fall then you’ll need to harvest your warm season vegetables and potentially ripen them up inside or use frost protection fabric.
- Consider extending the season. If you have a mild weather in the fall, this can be a fantastic gardening season. Many of our greens and cool season crops do better planted late summer instead of the spring because of bolting. If you have a growing zone 5 or warmer, fall and winter can be great months to grow and harvest more food. Many plants can handle frosts (even snow!) so this can be a fun venture if you’re up for learning more.
I hope you enjoyed these vegetable gardening tips!
Would you add anything?
My name is Isis Loran, creator of the Family Food Garden. I’ve been gardening for over 10 years now and push the limits of our zone 5 climates. I love growing heirlooms & experimenting with hundreds of varieties, season extending, crunchy homesteading and permaculture.