Hot Tips for Summer Melons, Berries, and Grapes

The triple-digit heat is here in Arizona! It's time to see what’s still growing and producing in your Garden. The most fruitful things growing through the hot summer months are melons, berries, and grapes. We have a few HOT tips to grow and harvest the very best during this time of year.

1. Melons: Yes, you can still be planting melon seeds throughout the summer!

a. Watermelon tip: the seeded ones are the most reliable to grow. The best way to pick a good watermelon is to choose one that is heavy and dense and be sure to look for one with a yellow-orange field spot that reflects sweetness.

b. Add some ZING: There’s a WONDERFUL Chilean tradition that can transform even a poor melon into a celebrated favorite. With a fresh lime sliced and juiced over the red flesh of the watermelon the poor flavor can be can be made better just as a good-flavored one can be made GREAT!

c. Try something new: The Pepino melon, more akin to the tomato family, is a fresh delight you can grow at home even in the hot weather!

2. Grapes: In the Arizona garden grapes are ripening well in this crazy heat and their success and sweetness depend on three major factors:

a. Proper Feeding: When fed correctly at least 4 times a year and throughout the summer, grapes are more resilient to heat, pests, and poor flavor. Proper feeding will help to produce plump, sweet, and resilient grapes!

b. Pruning: To get the biggest bunches and plumpest grapes it all comes down to pruning to ensure all the root power of the vine don’t get spread too thin across too many bunches of grapes. The best time to prune is in the early spring as the vines become flexible and before the leaves begin to push out. Join our Agriscaping Mastery Program (https://agriscaping.com/diy-mastery/) to learn more about pruning.

c. Protection: Anyone who grows sweet summer grapes knows that we humans aren’t the only ones who love them! When grapes are ripe you will find birds and other pests flock to the vines as soon as they begin to ripen!

Our most consistent method of protection is a wine to gallon-sized, moss-colored organza bag over each bunch of grapes, added just as the flowers have transitioned to berry-buds. Yes, we know these are typically used for crafts, potpourri, and gift bags but they also make WONDERFUL PEST PREVENTION and harvest collection for our grapes all the way to raisins! And, color definitely matters! The moss-colored ones keep the ripe grapes looking green on the outside, deterring the more aggressive pests from even trying to eat the grape berries through the bag!

3. Berries: No fruit-filled garden is complete without summer berries! Here are a few of our favorites:

a. Strawberries: Many varieties have harvested out by the time triple-digits show up but when grown in the shade, the Loran and Quinalt varieties can still produce as well as the Chandler variety in the A-microclimate (morning sun, afternoon shade). If they are still producing, keep feeding them once a month with a balance organic feed.

b. Blackberries: Like Strawberries, varieties like the thornless Chester, Black-satin, and triple crown can still produce for your in the A-microclimate areas of your garden!

c. Wolfberry: In canyons and washes around Arizona one can find a curiously bright-colored fruit that tops the charts for it’s high antioxidant qualities and that’s the wolfberry. It’s in the same family as the ever-popular Goji berry, just be sure you plant a variety that loves the heat like my native favorite, the Lycium Andersonii. It’s small to blue-berry-size is easy to find on the shady-side of their dusty-blue-colored bushes. Grown in dry soil, they can be a bit bitter and thorny. Grown in the garden like a typical edible the fruit is sweeter, plump, and the bush grows more lush and relatively thornless.

Learn more or find a local pro to get the edible garden of your dreams and beyond at Agriscaping.com!