With summer being in full-swing and some days starting to dry out and be mostly sunny (Finally. It has been quite the soggy 2018!), I have been focused on my “grow-my-own” veggie garden. I wanted to make sure to plant veggies that can tolerate heat better than others, so I reached out to Robin with ‘Heaven on Earth Starts’ who provides all our veggie and herb starts here at the nursery. She is the most excellent resource for this kind of question! (Check out her veggie starts here at the nursery and other area markets. She offers an amazing selection of healthy plants.) Her recommendations are outlined in this blog for all of us who want a successful summertime garden.
Peppers, Eggplant, & Tomatoes
I am happy that these three are on Robin’s list as excellent summertime veggies because I have already planted several types in my garden and they do seem to be exceptionally happy. Peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes are in the “Nightshade Family” of vegetables. Nightshade vegetables are part of the Solanaceae Family of which there are 98 genera and over 2,000 different species. The two most commonly eaten genera in the family are Solanum, which includes the eggplant and tomato, and Capsicum, which includes the peppers.
Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplants are heat loving plants. However, you may experience blossoms dropping and lower yields in periods of excessive heat for concurrent days. In addition, the fruit can develop sunscald if exposed to too much direct sun. Pepper plants need at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day and like well-drained soils. Peppers need regular watering of about 1-2 inches per week or more if the conditions are unusually hot. Eggplants like sandy well-drained soils, full sun, and are fairly drought tolerant so be careful not to over water and cause root rot. Tomatoes, like eggplant and peppers, grow best in full sun (about 8 hours of exposure each day is ideal) and well-drained soil. They are more prone to disease if planted in heavy clay soil or shade. Tomatoes require an even supply of water throughout the season. The best fertilizers for these plants are high in Phosphorous and Calcium. We recommend the Hendrikus Complete and Soil Enhancer fertilizers to cover all your nightshade’s needs.
Okra with deeper root systems are ideal for improved drought and heat tolerance, but as a rule okra are very drought tolerant (as Robin says, okra laughs at drought). Okra is a member of the Hibiscus Family. It would love to be planted in the hottest part of your yard in full sun and well-drained soil. Young Okra is delicious raw or pickled and the older pods can be fried for a delicious southern style treat!
Pole or bush beans are great for your summer garden on Kauai. Pole beans are vining, so it is recommended to grow them on a trellis. Robin grows a green bush bean called ‘Provider”, (“And boy it does provide”, Robin says!) She also has a yellow wax bush bean called ‘Indy Gold’. Beans are nitrogen fixing plants which basically means they create their own fertilizer. You can maximize this benefit in your garden by planting other nitrogen loving veggies next to your beans! Carrots, beets, kale, eggplant and radishes all love living next to beans. You can even use your pole bean trellis to shade your lettuces from the hot afternoon summer sun!
Cucumbers are sun and water loving though they do not tolerate soggy soil. They need about one inch of water per week and more in periods of high temps. Like beans they are available in both vining and bush habits. Planting marigold, society garlic, and other fragrant herbs with your cucumbers can help keep away pesky flies that like to sting cucumber fruits and vines.
This peppery flavored salad green is tolerable of a variety of growing conditions and will grow almost anywhere. The arugula plant grows best in well-drained soil, but it likes a lot of moisture so water frequently. Arrugula is even happy growing in a pot or container if you aren’t able to plant it in the ground! You can even grow arugula as a ground cover with other large plants as the roots are shallow and won’t interfere with a larger plants growth. Arugula makes a great “cut and come again” garden green. You can cut off pretty much all the leaves and it will grow back, you can harvest from one plant pretty much all summer! However every time you trim your arugula it will grow back spicier! At the end of the summer I like to use my spicy, flowering arugula as a cooking green.
Some may think of zinnias as a bedding plant, but they are edible and are good candidates as companion plants in your veggie garden! The more blossoms you cut from zinnias, the more it grows and re-blooms. That means blossoms all season long. Young zinnias require more water than established zinnias as once they are established they are actually quite drought tolerant. Like all the other veggies in this blog, full sun and well-drained soil are a must. Zinnias come in multitudes of colors and sizes and are amazing at brightening up the garden. No one can resist smiling when near a burgeoning bush of brilliant blooms!
Spreading mulch around the plants is recommended for keeping the soil moist and helping to maintain a good temperature. All of these veggies appreciate a good fertilizer after transplanting (Hendrikus Complete, HuMagic and Soil Enhancer are recommended) and for an additional boost try the new Hendrikus Ocean Magic with BioChar!