Gardening can be very intimidating and it’s easy to avoid it by saying, “I just don’t have a green thumb.” At Peju, Chef Alex Espinoza maintains an organic vegetable garden and proudly uses all of these vegetables for various culinary experiences offered at Peju. When he started to get questions from employees about gardening tricks and tips, he teamed up with the Peju family and together they launched an employee gardening program.
The purpose of the Peju employee garden is to teach interested team members how to plant a garden, maintain it, and properly harvest the produce when it is ready. On Friday, May 20, Alex assisted some Peju team members with planting the first round of vegetables in the employee garden. As a reward for planting and maintaining the garden, employees will be allowed to harvest the vegetables and take them home, or use them as a fresh addition to their lunches.
As the seasons progress, Alex will help the team members select new produce to plant. Wondering what you should plant in your summer garden? Below are some tips from Chef Alex about what to plant right now and how to get the most out of your vegetable garden this season!
1. Cucumbers: Cucumbers thrive during the summer months because they require full sun. However, they also require at least an inch of water per week, so make sure they’re getting enough to drink! As long as you pick frequently, the vines will continue to produce for a few months.
2. Peppers: Hot peppers are going to do the best during warm weather, whereas sweet and bell peppers will thrive when the weather begins to cool down in late summer. Plant the peppers at least 18 to 24 inches apart in sun. These plants will need to be watered regularly (about 1-2 inches per week, more in extreme heat), but make sure they are in soil that is well-drained.
3. Tomatoes: Start your tomato plants indoors 5-6 weeks before the last spring frost. When you are ready to plant, pick a spot that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of full sun. To ensure strong roots, bury at least two-thirds of the plant’s stem.
4. Lettuce: Nothing is better than a fresh, crisp summer salad, right? Salads are even better when they’re made with fresh lettuce from the garden, and it’s extremely easy to plant and maintain. Give lettuce fertile, well-drained, most soil. Plant loose-leaf lettuces in rows, keeping in mind that lettuce can survive when planted next to nearly anything as long as it has enough water, space and light.
While we did not plant these items in our employee garden, summer squash, eggplant and okra are also great summer options.