Starting a Summer Garden the Epic Gardening Way

Starting a Summer Vegetable Garden


Summer: Time to Garden Like a Boss

As I woke up this morning, I knew it was going to be a beautiful day here in San Diego, CA.  The cast iron skillet was sizzling with some heirloom onions and eggs from the farmer’s market and I looked outside my kitchen window to something that horrified me to my very core.

My backyard “garden” was looking absolutely pathetic.

Summer’s in full swing here and I knew it was time to give my backyard an epic start.  In this post, I’ll be outlining exactly how I went about starting a summer garden in my backyard…and how you can too!

Step 1: Figure Out Your Plant Hardiness Zone

If you’re new to gardening, the words “plant hardiness zone” might make no sense to you.  That’s OK!  Here’s what it means:

hardiness zone (a subcategory of Vertical Zonation) is a geographically defined area in which a specific category of plant life is capable of growing, as defined by climatic conditions, including its ability to withstand the minimum temperatures of the zone – Wikipedia

Basically, your plant hardiness zone let’s you know what types of plants you can grow based on where you live.  That’s it!

You can find your hardiness zone very easily by going to the USDA Hardiness Zone Calculator.

I live in the fabled Zone 10B, which is one of the best zones there is.  I found this out, did a little dance, and carried on to step two – figuring out what the hell to plant in my garden!

Step 2: Find Out What To Plant

So you know your hardiness zone…now how do you know what plants you can grow for the summer?  This is easy.  A simple Google search for “zone (your zone) planting guide” will give you some great resources.  Here’s what that search looks like for my zone.

Another alternative is to search for “(your city) master gardeners”.  That will bring up the master gardener society for your city.  Browsing around their site will usually give you the exact guide of what to plant for city.  This is cool because they break your zone into even more specific regions based on where you live in the city, so you can get even better planting guides!

Step 3: Buy Materials

Based on my hardiness zone and planting guide, I picked out a bunch of awesome veggies and fruits to grow.

Plant List

  1. Ananas Noire Tomatoes
  2. Black from Tula Tomatoes
  3. White Bell Peppers
  4. Bhut Jolokia “Ghost” Pepper
  5. Tall Utah Celery
  6. Ying Yang Bush Beans
  7. Cantaloupe
  8. Watermelon
  9. Jalapenos
  10. Rainbow Chard
  11. Zucchini
  12. Pickling Cucumbers
  13. Eggplant
  14. YOLO Wonder bell peppers

I went to the local nursery and picked up all of the seeds, a few bags of soil amendments and compost, and seedlings of the plants that are bolded above.

Total Cost: $80 for a garden that will produce hundreds of dollars of produce!

Sidenote: Support your local nursery when you can!

Step 4: Plant!

Before I could plant all of my seeds, I had to do some serious backyard garden rehab.  The bipolar weather in my city over the last month or two caused me to neglect planting or cleaning up, so I had a lot of dead/dying plants and general mess.

Here’s how the process went:

The Messy Garden Before Planting
The Sloppy Before Shot
Digging Out and Mixing Soil
Digging & Mixing Soil, Prepping Plants
Planting and Watering Square Foot Garden
Jon Planting The Square Foot Garden

After the cleanup, it was time to plant.  I’ll write up an in-depth guide on seed spacing and planting in the future, but for now just go with what it says on the back of your seed packets – it’s hard to go wrong with that advice.  There are little things you can do to improve your seed germination and overall production, but the point is to get started gardening, not worry about the details!

I recruited the help of my cousin Jon to plant the Square Foot Garden with me and we got it done in about fifteen minutes!

An Awesome Start to Summer Gardening

The Aftermath: An Epic Beginning!
The Aftermath: An Epic Beginning!

This guide to starting a summer garden is pretty basic, but that’s one of my big missions with Epic Gardening: getting newer gardeners started without worrying about all of the crazy details and gardening “wisdom” that’s out there.  There’s so much random information out there that it can prevent someone who might otherwise really love gardening to not even begin in the first place.  Don’t let that be you!

You’ll make some mistakes, but that’s the nature of gardening.  Remember, we’re actively cultivating living organisms for our own benefit…it’s only natural that we mess up a little bit along the way.

Are you starting your summer garden now?  Leave a note in the comments and tell me what you’re growing, how you’re growing it!  Ask any questions and I’ll do my best to help make your garden EPIC :)

Featured photo by devinf


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