Grow your own summer greens
There’s nothing better than enjoying the crunch of super fresh salad in your favourite salad or sandwich. Here’s a selection of leafy greens that are ideal for your summer vegetable garden.
There are many ways to plant your veggies – garden beds, plant pots, vertical gardens - whatever space you have. Remember, if you are growing in containers, you will need drainage holes (no one likes a soggy bottom!).
Work compost and a little bit of pelletised manure-based fertiliser through the soil, followed by mulch, to a depth of 5-7 cm about two weeks out from planting. Organic fertiliser is best for vegetables, so you know what is growing your food.
Veggies prefer to be in full sun, but there are some varieties that like to grow in partial shade. Make a note of how much sun the different areas of your garden get, so you can work out which veggies will grow most successfully, and where.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Lettuce has come a long way over the years – with lots of varieties to choose from. It's quick to grow and can be harvested early for baby leaves or left to mature for larger heads. To prevent your lettuce from bolting* in the heat, make sure to plant it in a spot that gets some afternoon shade.
With its vibrant, colourful stems and rich green leaves, Swiss Chard is a heat-tolerant green. It thrives in Perth's summer conditions, and you can continuously harvest the outer leaves for salads and stir-fries. Choose varieties like 'Bright Lights' for a pop of colour in your garden.
Incredibly hardy and can handle the summer sun. Varieties like 'Curly Kale' and 'Lacinato' are excellent choices for Perth. Regular harvesting of the outer leaves will encourage new growth and keep your plants producing throughout the season.
Spinach can be a bit finicky in hot weather, but some varieties like 'New Zealand Spinach' are more heat tolerant. Consider planting it in a spot with partial shade and keep the soil consistently moist to prevent it from bolting.
Also known as arugula, rocket is a fast-growing green that does well in Perth's summer. It has a peppery flavour and is perfect for salads. Just keep it well-watered to prevent it from becoming too bitter.
A mild-flavoured Japanese green that thrives does well in the heat, Mizuna is an excellent choice for salads and stir-fries. Plant it in partial shade to prevent bolting*.
A quick-growing, peppery green that can be grown in Perth's summer, cress is a great addition to sandwiches and salads. How to grow microgreens.
*What is ‘bolting’?
Bolting is when a plant’s energy is taken away from its leaves and roots to produce seeds and a flowering stem instead. It can stop the plant from providing a healthy harvest.
Stuff to remember
All leafy greens need lots of love, but in Perth’s sandy soil they need a bit of extra TLC:
Mulch: Apply a layer of organic mulch to keep the soil cool and hold on to moisture.
Shade: Providing shade during the hottest part of the day can protect your greens from scorching.
Pest control: Keep an eye out for common pests like aphids and caterpillars. Use organic pest control methods to protect your greens.
Watering (obviously): The key to successful summer gardening is consistent and deep watering. Water your greens in the morning or evening to avoid evaporation during the hottest part of the day.