Knowing what to plant in your garden this summer is a great first step in extending your growing season! Did you know that places located closer to the equator have more than one growing season during the summer? That’s right, season’s aren’t the same everywhere.
Starting Seeds Indoors vs. Directly Seeding
Some plants have such delicate root systems that starting them in their non-permanent planting spots can really impact the health and productivity of your plants. We learned at an organic gardening class (at a local farm-to-table restaurant called Season’s Harvest) that just about all squash variety plants are one of those plants that really should be planted directly in the ground. I’m opting to start some indoors anyways to speed up the growing season and have a little more control, but plan to be super careful.
The Arbor Gate has a fantastic and FREE Vegetable Planting Calendar for Harris County that shows you exactly what and when to plant. If you’re local and haven’t been, Arbor Gate is a must visit! All of their plants are un-sprayed or certified organic. Plan to spend some time, and bring lots of water and your wallet! It’s hard to stay in budget when there are so many wonderful plants, supplies, and a full gift shop.
Anyways, make sure to do a little bit of research on whether you should plant your seeds directly into the ground or start them inside for your summer garden.
Starting Summer Garden Seeds Indoors
What you do may not look the same as what I do, and that’s okay! This is just an idea of what someone else is doing to get you inspired to start yourself. If you are starting seeds indoors, be sure to purchase some organic seedling soil. This soil will be finer in texture to allow for the baby plants to move easier and establish their roots.
This is the seedling soil I grabbed from Home Depot. I also chose these seed starting strips to make it easier for me. They are both located just inside the garden center near the seed stands. I also hand drilled little holes in the bottom of each pot in the strip to allow roots to come through. This will help the plant transplant better by allowing the roots to move down freely as opposed to wrapping themselves around at the bottom. I’m using cookie cooling sheets to set these on while the seedlings grow.
Seedlings I’m Starting Mid-Summer:
- Tomatoes: Roma, Moneymaker, Beefsteak, and Sweet Cherry
- Swiss chard
- California orange bell pepper
- Zucchini: black beauty and emerald green
- Winter squashes: acorn, butternut, and honeynut
- Watermelon: sugar baby
- Spinach: Malabar (I bought established seedlings from Arbor Gate because they had them)
Directly Seeding Outdoors
Our soil has improved greatly since adding about 30% topsoil this past spring. Check your soil and confirm it’s in fortified condition to plant. I have a bit of work on my hands to treat my soil before planting for my summer garden. We’ve had ants, squash vine borers (the reason I’m having to plant new summer squash plants at all, ugh), weeds, and I need to also do some additional tilling to better mix in the top soil. In addition to all of that, we need to re-fertilize with organic fertilizer to give the soil some boost, and I’ll be adding some worm castings as well. We have raised garden beds that I’m glad we went with. The raised beds have been helpful because of the abundance of rain we’ve had in Houston this year.
There’s likely some work you’ll want to do in your garden before planting, too. Spend some time and call someone over to help if you’re unsure about something! (Feel free to post your questions below as well, happy to help if I can!)
Direct Seeds I’m Planting Mid-Summer:
- Pumpkins: sugar pies, howden, big max, and white lumia
- Lettuce: salad varieties, red romaine, and butter
- Bunching onions
- Sweet Corn
Flowers for Your Summer Garden
I have had a blast having my first flower garden in our front yard, but now I’m ready to add some more floral notes in our backyard as well. I feel a bit less overwhelmed by adding them to the vegetable garden now that I’ve had some successful experience, and am excited to mix it up a bit!
Flowers can bring beneficial bugs to your organic garden, and they sure are beautiful!
Flowers I’m Plantings Mid-Summer:
- Sunflowers: many varieties! (Keep planting these all through September!)
- Cypress vine
- Moonflower vine
All of the flowers I’m planting will be directly seeded with the exception of the Mexican sunflower variety which is recommended to start indoors.
Encouragement for You
Listen, I don’t know much but I’ve learned more than I ever could from someone else by just going for it. Making mistakes is going to happen with gardening, probably forever. But, the good news is every mistake is an opportunity for learning valuable lessons. You likely won’t make the same mistake twice, and you learn to be grateful for each harvest as it increases with experience and time.
The enjoyment from getting my hands dirty and cultivating growth in the hot sun is unlike anything else. The smell of a fresh bell pepper from your garden is beyond refreshing. Having fresh tomatoes on hand for various needs is worth every step of the way.
I hope if you’re feeling overwhelmed like I often do, that you’ll start just by researching what fresh garden herbs you can begin growing in your area this fall. Just having fresh basil is enough to get you inspired for more. From there you can just add little by little and before you know it, you’ll be swimming in a garden of freshness!
If You’re Just Starting Out
If you’re more of the “all or nothing” type like I am, then I’m sure you have the list above all written down already and are working on figuring it all out. Take it from me, and try to reduce your list by 50% (I know it’s hard, I serioulsy know). Unless you have all the time in the world, you’re planning on way too much if you’re anything like me. Your garden will have a lot more success starting out if you start smaller and focus more on keeping only the necessities alive.
I’m so excited to see what you’ll do with your garden this summer, please let me know in the comments what you’re planting and where you’re located! Happy planting!