Growing the Best Summer Garden

Southern California can be a gardener’s paradise, with our warm weather all year long. But especially in LA, we have to deal with hot weather in the summer and small spaces for our gardens. But even if you only have space for potted plants, our long summers offer a fantastic opportunity to grow a diverse array of fruits and veggies. This guide will walk you through the steps to start a summer garden in Los Angeles:

1. Planning Your Garden Space

Decide on the layout of your garden. Raised beds and container gardening are good options for a home garden in SoCal; they work well as temporary options for renters and they are good options for small outdoor spaces. If you’re working with a small patio, you can still set up a small garden with potted plants. If you have more space, raised beds are a great option and can give you the opportunity for a wider diversity of plants. Not sure what is right for your space? This is a great article from an urban gardener in LA that can help guide you.

2. Choosing the Right Plants

There are lots of options for summer plants that grow well in the SoCal heat:

  • Tomatoes: These thrive in warm weather and full sun. You can grow cherry tomatoes in a pot, or bigger tomatoes in beds with a trellis.
  • Peppers: Both sweet and hot peppers grow well in the heat. Bell peppers are better suited to raised or in-ground beds, and chilis, serranoes, jalapeños, and other hot peppers are great in pots.
  • Zucchini: A prolific producer that loves the summer sun, although something that takes a little more space – typically, zucchini will thrive best in beds with a trellis.
  • Cucumbers: Perfect for salads and pickling, cucumbers flourish in hot weather. There are also lots of options for cucumbers that grow well in SoCal.
  • Basil: Loves the heat, although probably not the best option for new gardeners – while basil grows well in the Southern California, it’s still a relatively delicate plant.
  • Rosemary: A hardy herb that can withstand drought, which makes it a great option for new gardeners.
  • Strawberries: Not only do they thrive in the warm SoCal summer, strawberries are perennials, which means you can plant them once and they’ll grow back the following year.

3. Maintaining Your Garden

Consistent watering is crucial, especially during the hot summer months. Drip irrigation systems are efficient and help conserve water, but if you don’t have the space or ability to set up drip irrigation, water your plants with a can or a hose in the early morning and/or the evenings, so the water doesn’t evaporate in the midday sun. Most of these plants are good easy options, but using fertilizer once a month or so will help keep them happy and healthy! If you want to prevent pests in your garden, it could be a good idea to introduce some ladybugs to your plants.

Starting a summer garden in Southern California can be a rewarding experience. With careful planning, the right plant choices, and diligent care, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest all summer long. Happy gardening!



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