Dig In To Summer Veggies
Leslie Clayshulte has been farming in the Mesilla Valley since 1950. He’s grown everything from alfalfa, seed crops, and grains to cotton, vegetables, and pecans. He gave us the inside track how to get a summer vegetable garden off on the right track.
Project: Planting a Warm-Season Vegetable Garden
Where to Plant
Choose a plot of land with good soil that gets moderate to full sunlight. Be sure to choose a plot size that you can manage efficiently. Get the ground prepared to receive the plantings by removing the weeds and loosening up the soil. Use mulch and organic matter to improve the texture of the soil. Organic matter could be composted material, composted leaves, manure, and/or garden trash. Plant in rows based on the size the plants will grow. Put the tallest crops, like corn, on the northern side so they don’t over shade the smaller plants. Medium plants can go in the middle, with your smallest plantings on the southern edge of your plot.
When to Plant
Vegetables typically fall into two seasons: warm and cool. Warm season vegetables need more heat and more sunlight to thrive, so they will need to be planted after the last frost. April through June is optimal sowing time for our region.
What to Plant for Warm Weather
- Beans (Includes dry varieties like pinto, and green beans)
- Onion Transplants (Planting from seed at this time of year isn’t recommended unless you know what you’re doing.)
- Melons (All varieties, including watermelon and cantaloupe)
- Peppers (All varieties, including chile and bell peppers)
- Swiss Chard
What Not to Plant
Stay away from cool season vegetables including lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, peas, and carrots.
Maintenance & Tips
- When you’re not sure of seed depth and spacing, obtain a planting chart. Most local nurseries should be able to provide one or find one in a seed catalog. I like Johnny’s Selected Seeds (johnnyseeds.com).
- Large seeds need to be planted deeper. Small seeds need to be planted shallower. Don’t let them dry out until germinated and emerging through the soil surface. Refer to seed charts if you’re not sure.
- Be careful not to over or under water. The amount of water needed will depend on your soil. Sandy soil has less water holding capacity so you’ll need to give lighter water, but more frequently, roughly about twice a week. Clay and heavier soil requires less water. After they are established (meaning they are growing and producing), plantings in clay or heavy soil only need to be watered every week or 10 days. To determine if you need to water, dig down and inch to an inch and a half and see if there is still moisture.
- It should take about one week to 10 days after planting before plants will emerge from soil. It will be one to two months, depending on the varieties sown, before they are ready for harvest.