Summer gardening tips

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Do you know the No. 1 tip for becoming a fruitful vegetable gardener?

Gardening gurus like Laura Lee Rose, the consumer horticulture agent for Beaufort County Clemson Extension and coordinator for the Master Gardener program, will tell you to first consider what you like to eat. “Make a list of your family’s favorite vegetables,” Rose said. “This will help you plot out your garden and ensure you eat what you grow, which is really the fun part.”

As summer heats up, June, July and August are great months to get cooking in your garden.

“June is an excellent time to harvest your April vegetables, like tomatoes, corn and peppers,” Rose said. “You can let the soil rest and replant these crops in July, or you can transplant Mediterranean herbs on cool or cloudy days. If you decide to plant, you will want to side-dress, which means going along the sides of the plants with fertilizers maybe containing nitrogen like blood meal and cottonseed meal.”

Rose also advised cooling off some crops. “Shade cloth or high or low tunnel row cover will extend things like salad greens or cool season plants.”

As for the best crops to start this June, try okra and edamame. Even if you are not a fan, you might learn to love them because of their storability and convenience. Okra can be used as a thickening agent in soups, and edamame makes a protein-rich hummus base. Both can be frozen once ripe.

Come July, in addition to re-harvesting your April veggies, it’s time to think about planting pumpkin seeds. In August, you can cover some ground for fall’s yield by sowing cauliflower, cabbage and kale seeds — just to name a few. All summer long, and really all yearlong, Rose recommends cover crops and companion gardening, especially for pest control.

“Even though you do not eat buckwheat, it acts as a green manure and makes phosphorus available and attracts pollinators. Deterrents like marigolds and basil paired with tomatoes ward off pests,” Rose said.

Deer also dislike comfrey and lemon verbena and tend to steer clear of anything aromatic or fuzzy. Another great cover crop is cowpeas.

So you don’t wilt, try gardening early in the morning or late afternoon. Outfitters like Outside Hilton Head sell an assortment of clothes and accessories to help you beat the heat; my favorite cool down go-to is my evaporative cooling bandana, which is available online and some local stores. If your plants are not thriving, a soil test only costs $6 and can be done by bringing two cups of soil to the Hilton Head plant clinic. And don’t forget to water sensibly, preferably with drip irrigation.

“Have your irrigation checked out,” Rose said. “Like flossing your teeth, if you can't remember the last time you did it, you should probably do it now.”

Becca Edwards is a wellness professional, freelance writer, owner of b.e.WELL+b.e.CREATIVE (bewellbecreative.com) and graduate of the Clemson Master Gardener program.

Coastal Planting Chart (Summer)

Vegetable  Plant Date  Days to Harvest 
Beans, Snap Aug. 15-30 50-60
Beans, Lima Aug. 1-10 65-75
Beans, Edible Soy May 10-July 15 60-70
Beets Aug. 1-20 50-60
Broccoli Aug. 10-Sept. 15 60-70
Brussels Sprout Aug. 1-15 90-100
Cabbage Aug. 1-15 60-80
Carrot Aug. 1-20 60-70
Cauliflower Aug. 1-20 60-70
Cucumber Aug. 1-20 50-60
Eggplant July 20-25 70-80
Kale Aug. 15-Sept. 15             50-55
Lettuce Aug. 15-25 40-70
Okra June 15-30 60-70
Pepper July 20-25 60-70
Potato, Irish July 15-30 90-110
Potato, Sweet Apr. 15-July 1 120
Squash, Summer             Aug. 10-25 50-60
Squash, Winter Aug. 10-25 90-120
Tomato July 25-30 70-80