Summer Gardening Adventure: Tips for a Healthy and Thriving Garden

The heat of summer may not sound like the best time to work in the garden, but our gardens need special care in the warmer months!

Water! Water! Water!

Just like we need to stay hydrated during the summer, our plants need to stay hydrated, too! In California, this is something we must balance when we’re at risk of drought. A good way to combat this is to carefully time your watering for the cooler times of the day, either early in the morning or towards the evening, as the temperature starts to cool down. This will give your plants ample time to absorb water without most of it evaporating into the air.

Another important thing to remember is to water your garden gently and deeply. A good way to know your water is getting into the soil is if you’re not seeing the water pool around the plant. The best way to achieve this is to water plants slowly to give the water time to seep into the ground rather than running off. Some other tips to help conserve water include setting aside grey water from cooking pasta and washing rice, creating a water reserve near your plants, using a wine bottle filled with water, or burying a plugged unglazed terracotta pot filled with water and covering it with a lid to create a DIY olla.

Cover Up

While our plants love the sun, sometimes they need a little protection from the heat. If you have a container garden, this is much easier because you can move your plants into the shade when the temperatures are too high. If you have an immovable garden, the next best thing is to mulch the dirt to prevent all that precious water from evaporating. Some suitable inexpensive mulching materials are dried leaves, dried grass or even dried-out roots from herb gardens past. For more traditional mulch, you can find woodchips, compost or sphagnum moss at garden centers and hardware stores. Some communities even have year-round free compost available to residents.

Late Starters Don’t Mean Late Bloomers

If you’re planning on starting your garden now, there are a few plants that can be grown from seed all year long in California: radishes, carrots, salad greens, basil and cilantro, though I recommend keeping them protected in the shade when starting out. Cucumbers, tomatoes, squash and a variety of peppers and chilis can also be grown from cuttings and seedlings. We are lucky here in Northern California to be able to grow most plants all year long with proper care.

Save those Seeds

For people with gardens already in full bloom, remember to save those seeds! Flowers that are blooming in your garden today may already have seed pods. If you’d like to spread your seeds while saving those dollars, your plants can often provide you with an endless supply of seeds to plant for next spring. An excellent method to save seeds is to pick pods off plants before they are fully dried. Then, allow the pods to dry in a breathable bag with sufficient heat. Some good bags to use are old organza gift bags, delicate mesh laundry bags, or brown paper bags with holes in them. Once the seeds are all dry, you can put them in an envelope with a date and label written on it. Keep them in a cool dry place to get them ready for the next planting season. If you’re generous or have seeds in abundance, stop by one of our branches to share, swap, or get new seeds from our seed libraries. Keep an eye out for plant swap events too!

Continue Your Gardening Journey

Our libraries offer lots of different books to help your garden thrive. Check out some of our recommendations below!

Container Gardening

How to Grow More Vegetables (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land With Less Water Than You Can Imagine

Four-season Food Gardening

The Manual of Seed Saving


This blog was written by Geoleen Noguera, EH Library Assistant.