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Field Notes: Transitioning to a Summer Garden

If you live in Southern California you know our May and June was rainy and gloomy 80-90% of the days. Writing the title "Transition to Summer" almost seems premature because of how non-Springy it has felt the last several weeks. That being said, TODAY (when I wrote this) marks the first day of Summer - WOW. Here's how my little summer garden's going.


Lack of Lushness

I was getting discouraged with the lack of green and lushness I think I expected by now, even with adding a few starts from the nursery, but truth is it's still very early on in the process of making the side 'garden' what I'd like it to be. Starting from seed for many plants has made things seem even slower but that combined with lower amounts of direct sunlight (up until recent days) and what I believe to be deficient soil, it's no shock as to why things aren't as lush as I'd prefer.

Side view of a ZEOLIGHTS calendula flower

Comparison is a Thief

Before I was able to piece together the puzzle of why my plants didn't seem to be thriving, I blamed it on the cooler temps we've had. To my surprise, on a drive I take almost daily, I noticed a neighbor's garden popping off - like overgrown, lush, and GREEN. I also know that they restarted all of their plants this year as I witnessed them pull everything a couple months ago. I could no longer blame the lack of growth my plants were experiencing on the weather - clearly there were other issues.


While I knew it was a stretch to begin this project in the first place given the amount of sunlight the side yard receives, I was optimistic. I thought I would at least find luck with plants that do well in shade. As a first time gardener and with the specifics of my growing area, things haven't come easy, but I've learned a lot. I could throw in the towel and say my skills and space are not fit for what I'd like to achieve, but my vision is bigger than just this space I've been given so I have to keep that big picture in mind and avoid the comparison...even if I have to drive by it daily ;)


In my learnings I've been able to remember how much has gone 'right' and am grateful for every little sprout that a seed germinates, every bud of a flower that begins to emerge, and for all the joy being outside checking on my plants daily has brought me.


The Very Hungry Caterpillars Eating My Plants

Something that I'm starting to dive into is how to treat and prevent caterpillars from eating through my plant leaves and tomatoes. I was shocked the other evening to find half a baby tomato eaten (with a caterpillar on it), and three more caterpillars chomping away at leaves. I'm hesitant to spray anything on my plants because I'm mindful of the pollinators and don't want to introduce unnecessary toxins. I listened to a Garden Culture podcast featuring Jill Winger the other day who spoke about first identifying your pests and thinking of prevention for the following season(s) or year(s). She also spoke about being educated on local pests so that's where I'm currently at with no clear treatment or prevention quite nailed down.


As for my previous issue with fungus gnats, I'm happy to say that now that the weather is warming up, the population has significantly died down. This is something I'm now more aware of for future prevention.


What's Next for the Summer Garden?

I'm anxiously anticipating the first ripe tomato and pepper from the summer garden. I'm also hoping to add in a few more plants and flowers to carry us through the summer. If you have any ideas or suggestions, I'm all ears!


If you'd like more updates on the garden space be sure to find me on Instagram: @allarondgoodness_





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