Say Hello to Tomatoes: Tips for the Summer Garden
Get into the garden, it’s the season to be planting tomatoes and basil! Our Persimmon Park community garden partners at Homestead Design Collective joined us to discuss basil varieties, fertilizing, spacing, trellising, and how to plant a tomato start. There are four basic types of basil: sweet basils, small-leaved/dwarf basils, purple-leaved basil, and basils with specially scented leaves. Sweet basils are the tender large-leaved varieties such as ‘Genovese’ and ‘Napoletano’. Staples in Italian cooking, they are the aromatic and flavor-packed pesto makers.
Remember that tomatoes, unlike almost all other vegetables, need to be planted deep. If you look closely at your tomato start, you’ll see many fine silver hairs along the main stem. If you plant deep and bury much of that stem, all those little hairs will turn into roots that will make your plant stronger. For all the visual learners out there, feel free to click here to see a short video from Sunset magazine’s website to see how to properly plant a tomato.
Although we’re all extremely excited about growing tomatoes at this time of year, there’s so much more to the heat loving vegetables in a summer garden, including eggplants, peppers, zucchini, winter squash, and more.
Did you know? ‘Sunburst’ squash and ‘Early Girl’ tomato thrive in big glazed pots. All you need is a big container, potting soil, and a spot that gets six hours of full sun per day. Learn more from Sunset Magazine.
WHEN TO PLANT YOUR SUMMER VEGETABLES
Are you feeling concerned that it’s too late to plant spring and summer vegetables and fear you’ve missed the window of opportunity? Fear not, it’s not too late! Although here in the Bay Area HDC always encourages people to plant their tomatoes just after Tax Day, they can also be planted late into May. Some veteran gardeners would even argue that hot weather crops such as peppers and eggplants should be planted in late May or early June to be absolutely certain they’re not affected by the plunging nighttime temperatures that we have in April and early May. So if you haven’t planted your heat loving veggies yet, go for it – it’s not too late! Your cherry tomatoes will only be a few weeks behind those who got an early start, and they’ll still be just as productive.
Get ready to make an easy Cherry Tomato and Fresh Herb Salad!
DON’T FORGET ABOUT WINTER SQUASH
For many who are new to vegetable gardening, the word “winter” in winter squash can cause some confusion. If they’re winter squash, after all, doesn’t that mean they should be planted in the fall or winter? The answer, however, is no, as you should be planting all your favorite winter squash varieties (including pumpkins, kabocha, butternut, acorn, and much, much more!) at the same time as your favorite spring and summer veggies. Winter squash need months of warmth and sun to produce their gourds, which (depending on the variety) will be ready to harvest in late summer to late fall/early winter. A word of warning, though, before you dream of a garden producing enough butternut squash to make soups for an entire winter – squash plants produce sprawling vines that need plenty of room to grow. If space is limited in your garden (as it is at the community garden in Persimmon Park), they may not be the best use of your space.
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