Summer Fruits and Veggies to Grow from Seeds

Summer Fruits and Veggies to Grow from Seeds

Summer Fruit And Vegetable Plants

Hello neighbors. Thank you for joining me to learn about summer fruits and vegetables you can grow from seeds. Well before the calendar turns to spring, many gardeners’ heartbeats quicken with anticipation of planting a summer food garden. In this session of the Connect with FoodGardening series, we’ll talk about which summer fruit and vegetable plants we can plant into the garden as seeds with reliable success.

We’ll also cover when we can plant seeds into our summer garden; where we can grow annual summer fruits and vegetables; how to plant vegetable seeds; and go over some general care and management for our food garden. Several summer garden favorites pop up quickly from seeds.

These include corn, beans, butter peas, and southern peas, okra, and members of the squash family-like cucumbers, summer squash, winter squash, pumpkins, and melons. Corn should always be direct seeded into the garden so that it can establish the root system it needs to keep it from falling over. Summer annual food crops should be planted after the threat of frost has passed and when the soil temperature stays above 60 degrees Fahrenheit for several days in a row.

Healthy Start

Timing is important for getting our warm-season food crops off to a healthy start. We often have several warm days in a row during early spring, and it may seem like we could go ahead and start planting. But soil temperatures are more stable than air temperatures. While we are enjoying a sunny, 70-degree afternoon topside, the soil two inches below the surface is still in the 40 to 50-degree range.

Warm-season seeds require warm soil before they germinate and begin growing. We don’t want seeds waiting around in the soil for too long, because that gives fungus and other pests a chance to injure them. Cold soil also limits the availability of some nutrients, such as phosphorus, which leads to plant stress due to nutrient deficiencies. TheUniversity of Georgia Weather Network is a great resource for checking soil temperatures, average frost dates, and other weather data that’s important to gardening.

Proposed Garden Area

The temperature calculator on the Georgia Weather Network shows soil temperature data at different depths. This is important because seeds will be planted near the surface, but transplants will be planted deeper. Data is collected at weather stations located throughout the state, so you can select the one closest to your area. We can grow summer annual food crops in the ground, in raised beds, and we can even find some cultivars that are sized for growing in containers.

But our planting site needs to provide six to eight hours of full sun daily. It should also be located near a water source and close by the house so that we can frequently visit and check up on our crops. Most importantly, the garden should be away from underground utilities. Before you begin digging, call 811 to schedule a free service to mark where powerlines, gas lines, sewer lines, and other utilities are located in your yard. If any of these run through your proposed garden area, pick a different spot for the garden.

Environment 

Preparing the planting site is the first step in gardening. Remove all weeds from the bed and loosen up the soil. When seeds germinate, they grow in two directions. The roots push down through the soil, and the shoot system pushes up through the soil. Heavy clay soil can halt this growth. Tilling in composted organic matter will help lighten up heavy soil and make it a better environment for your plants to grow.

As a general rule, we plant seeds at a depth that is slightly deeper than they are large. For example, we’ll plant a squash seed that is an inch long at a depth of one and a half inches below the soil surface. Seeds need to be moist to germinate. Warm, moist soil acts to wake up summer seeds from dormancy. Seeds have enough stored energy to germinate and push the new growth up to the sunshine, as long as they aren’t planted too deeply.

Growing Information

Don’t add fertilizer to the planting hole. Salts in the fertilizer will pull moisture out of the seed and interfere with germination. If seeds dry out once germination starts, you probably won’t get a seedling. After seedlings pop up through the soil, allow the soil surface to dry between watering. Holding moisture against the seedling stem causes stem rot. Seed packets give us a lot of planting and growing information. On this okra packet, we can see from the map that, in Georgia, our planting window is between April and June.

We should plant these okra seeds 3/4 of an inch deep and give them 18inches of space between plants. We can expect to see the seedlings emerge 12days after we plant the seeds, and we should have harvestable okra 58 days after planting. The description at the top also recommends picking the okra pods when they are 3 inches long. Some plants have additional needs. Pole beans need a trellis or other structure to support their climbing growth habit. Many food crops need insects to pollinate the flowers so that the plant produces the food we want to harvest.

The Mature Size of The Plant

Planting flowers in and around your garden will encourage pollinators to visit. Here we see a honey bee on butterfly weed. Zinnias and marigolds are also good choices that will bloom throughout the summer. Corn relies on the wind to move pollen from plant to plant. Garden corn should be planted in blocks of at least four side-by-side rows, with the rows oriented so that the wind blows across them. In North America, the wind typically blows from west to east.

Many of our summer fruit and vegetable foods grow on vines. Cucumbers, melons, and squash vines need a lot of space to spread. For container gardening, plan to plant bush-type beans and squash, or look for cultivars that are bred for container growing. Select containers that are big enough to support the mature size of the plant, and drill drainage holes in the bottom if they arent already there. Container plants may need daily watering.

Recommended Spacing

Plastic pots retain moisture better than clay pots do, and they’re easier to move around to catch more sunshine. The root system isn’t as protected from temperature extremes in containers as it is in the soil, so use pots with thick walls and light exterior colors that will reflect heat. Plant roots can cook in the thin plastic, blackspots that you get from the nursery.

To keep your garden healthy and productive, thin seedlings to the recommended spacing and supplement rainfall to ensure plants get one inch of water per week. Soaker hoses are the best choice for watering plants. They apply water to the soil, where it can move down to the root system. Overhead watering results in water loss due to wind and evaporation, and wet plant leaves that encourage fungus to grow. Weeds are the number one pest of gardens. They compete with food crops for soil nutrients, water, sunshine, and root space.

Emerging

Weeds can quickly take over a garden if they aren’t managed from the beginning. Always clear weeds from the site before playing. Use mulch to keep new weeds from emerging, and pull all weeds as soon as you see them. One squash bug quickly becomes many if it’s allowed to reproduce.

Scout your garden daily to identify pests, and take appropriate control measures to keep problems from getting out of hand. In this case, simply removing the eggs from the leaf is effective to control. Fungus happens, especially in Georgia’s warm, humid climate, and some diseases are very predictable. Powdery mildew lives in the soil of Georgia gardens throughout the winter. It looks like powder sprinkled on the top of squash leaves when it breaks out. Downy mildew blows up from Florida around mid-summer every year.

Underside of Leaves

It looks like gray fuzz on the underside of leaves. We can prevent or hold off fungus issues with protective or preventive applications of fungicides before the fungus becomes a problem, but we can’t really cure a plant once fungus takes hold. As your garden grows, harvest your vegetables frequently and while they’re young and tender so the plants will keep producing.

Melons are ready to harvest when the stem separates easily, or slips, from the fruit. Food safety practices will help keep our home-grown produce healthy. We should always wash our hands before and after working in the garden. When it’s time to harvest, gather the food into clean containers and keep the picked produce in a cool place out of the sun. Move it indoors as soon as possible. Rinse fresh-picked vegetables in cool water, and cook immediately or store them in the refrigerator. Best wishes for a successful and enjoyable summer food garden.

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