Summer in the Organic Edible Garden

It’s the season when we enjoy an abundance of food from the garden.  If you haven’t got them in yet, there’s still time to plant tomatoes, beans, capsicum, eggplant, chilli, cucumber, zucchini, pumpkin, sweetcorn, and watermelon.  In fact many people in cooler areas will not have planted these crops yet due to it still being cold at night.

Summer planting

The key is to not plant too much at the same time.  In the north we have the advantage of being able to put in successive crop of beans, sweetcorn, zucchini, cucumber and beetroot.  Regardless of where you are though, you can stagger plantings of leafy greens (lettuces, mesclun and rocket) to keep you in good supply throughout the summer.  They don’t like it too hot however. So in the heat of the summer, we suggest placing shade cloth over your netting (if you have it up) or just over hoops – you’ll be surprised how much better leafy greens grow with this protection.  We use a cloth that’s 50% shade.  Depending on your conditions, there are shade cloths ranging from 20-75%.

Plant netting for shade

Now’s the time to plant kumara slips. A kumara slip is the plant itself, including the root which grows out of the eye. It takes around 3-4 weeks for the kumara to sprout and grow. Then you can gently pull the slips off them and plant. 

Watch Rob planting summer crops, including kumara (from 8:25).

Key for summer is retaining moisture in the soil.  Mulching is the best solution for this and a whole lot of other reasons:

  • It encourages earthworms to the surface thus aerating the soil
  • It keeps the bacteria and fungi in the soil alive (due to the cooler temperature)
  • It suppresses weeds
  • It deters slugs and snails (although soon it will be too warm for them anyway!)

Mulching your garden

We’re also great fans of making up a liquid fertiliser to feed fruiting plants in particular.  Comfrey is the base as it’s high in potassium.  You can also add in weeds out of your garden, as long you don’t include any of the toxic solanum weeds like deadly nightshade and shoofly.

This video demonstrates how to mulch your garden and make liquid fertiliser.

If you’re going to be away for extended periods in the summer, it’s best to have an irrigation system set up on a timer.  Dripper hoses and oscillating spray systems work very well and are not that expensive.

Alternatively, plant your lettuces in a container and take it with you on holiday!

Container Lettuce

Happy festive season from the team at Organic Edible Garden!


Organic Edible Garden’s vision is to make organic edible gardening achievable for everyone. Visit their website for Getting Started videos, and regular blog posts to find out what to do in your edible garden.