Addressing the Challenges of the Summer Edible Garden

In a recent newsletter, we asked about what challenges you face while growing an edible garden in summer. The response was great! We look forward to creating more ways to help you overcome these challenges. For now, we’ve put together this blog that includes various resources, and possible solutions.

As always, we invite you to come to our store with pictures or plant samples so we can examine the issue and find out what can be done, together. Thank you for learning and growing with us!


  • Use mulch – applying a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around the base of your plants can help maintain moisture in the soil for longer. Mulch also regulates the temperature of the garden bed. Check out our post Mulching – Advantages & Application for great tips on mulching.
  • Provide shade during extreme heat – When temperatures are expected to be in the 90’s or higher, then consider providing shade, especially for young plants. Use a lightweight shade cloth draped over tomato cages (that are not being used for tomatoes), or garden stakes, to shield your plants. This is also help the soil to not dry out so quickly.
  • Learn how to setup a drip system – Make a pot of your favorite sipping beverage, be prepared to take notes and dive into our Irrigation playlist on YouTube. The playlist includes a short drip irrigation basics video, and 2 full class recordings packed with in-depth information on how to get a drip irrigation system setup.

Plant Disease

This is a big topic so here are general tips on prevention, and how to deal with common issues:

  • Fungal problems can generally be avoided with good drainage and proper plant spacing. In addition removing old dead leaves from the area is another way to prevent fungal diseases.
  • Dormant spray fruit trees – In winter, spray trees with copper to control fungal and bacterial diseases, or with spray oil to control mites and aphids. Stop spraying when flower buds begin to show color. Learn more about copper sprays and when to apply HERE.
  • Summer disease controlMonterey Complete Disease Control is a certified organic fungicide/bactericide suitable for use in vegetable gardens and orchards, as well as on ornamentals.
  • Do your best to control the spread – Viruses are usually transferred via aphids so be sure to keep aphids in check.
  • Fertilize – Feeding your plants can help them grow strong and have better resilience to pest and disease pressure. Watch our YouTube video, Fertilizing Vegetables to learn more.
  • Apply lime – Many vegetable plants develop disease-like symptoms from a lack of calcium. Tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers are popular crops that suffer from the common disorder, blossom end blight. Providing lime at planting is helpful to prevent this from occurring.

Controlling Destructive Insects

  • Summer insect barrier – Using a summer insect barrier provides protection from insects and garden pests, thus reducing the need for pesticides. This lightweight fabric provides an effective screen against most insects such as thrips, aphids, whiteflies and insects that are virus carriers, and also larger pests like birds, rabbits and deer. Use the fabric to drape loosely over the plant bed, or over hoop supports to avoid weighing down your plants, and secure with landscape staples.

Dealing with Critters & Deer

  • Deer, Rabbits, Voles – Apply repellents like Plantskydd.
  • Voles, Mole & Pests – Watch our class recording on dealing with common garden intruders.

Harvesting & Preventing Food Waste

Limited Space

  • Grow in containers – Watch our class recording, Grow a Container Garden, to learn how to maximize the use of your outdoor space, while maintaining the health of your vegetables and herbs.
  • Companion planting – Knowing which plants grow well together may help to utilize your growing space to it’s full potential. Watch our Companion Planting class recording to learn more.