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Easy summer gardening ideas with containers and edibles

The Charlottesville Farmers Market opened a few weeks ago and that’s when the summer gardening bug always starts to take hold of me. Not only is there all that fresh produce that I know I could be growing myself, there are racks and racks of starter plants. There are heirloom tomatoes, brussels sprouts, and herbs galore, all in little 2.5″ and 4″ pots just begging me to take them home. We’ve established that my ideal form of summer gardening is kitchen gardening so I end up crazy levels of excited.

Like most folks, though, I’m severely time challenged. I have a business, and side projects, and a high energy dog, and a wife who for some reason seems to enjoy spending time with me. For that reason I’ve worked out a few projects that are easily replicated every year. Here are a few of my easy summer gardening ideas:

Lettuce in a gutter

summer gardening ideas

Until we got the dog our backyard was like a casting call for Watership Down, rabbits everywhere. To keep tender leafy greens safe from those terrifying little beasts I screwed gutters to the shed, filled them with Pro Mix, and planted my greens up off the ground. Even now that we’re rabbit-free I love the gutters. There’s no weeding, the lettuce is at an easy height to harvest, and reseeding is a dream. I’m not much of a junk couture decorator but that’s a win!

Stock tank gardening

Sometimes I get ideas off of Pinterest. Other times I receive divine inspiration whilst wandering the aisles at the farm co-op and think I’m a genius, only to then find the same thing all over Pinterest when I get back. The internet giveth, the internet taketh away. Regardless, I love using galvanized steel stock tanks for raised bed gardening.

summer gardening stock tanks

For those who may not know, stock tanks are just giant water bowls for moo-cows. You can get them in a variety of sizes but mine are 4’x2′ by 18″ high and I think it’s the perfect size. It’s suited for three tomato plants (but will hold four) and maybe a little mint, there’s enough soil to keep roots cool and moist, and you’re not spending a gazillion dollars filling the tanks with soil that will never see plant roots. If you live in a city, don’t despair. You can use stock tanks for summer gardening thanks to sites like Tractor Supply Company.

Cocktails and summer gardening


In the past year I’ve fallen in line with the whole craft cocktail craze. While planning for cocktails isn’t a time saver per se, it makes time spent much more enjoyable. So we make sure we have multiple varieties of mint, and thyme, and rosemary. Yes, rosemary! Check out this recipe I found on Drinkhacker. I’m pretty sure this is the drink that convinced MJ that she likes bourbon:

Basil Hayden’s Dad’s Day Off
(Created by Zachary Brian Taylor, San Francisco)
1 ½ parts Basil Hayden’s bourbon
¾ parts Lemon Juice
½ part brown sugar syrup
1 sprig of Rosemary
Ginger Beer

Combine Basil Hayden’s Bourbon, lemon juice and brown sugar syrup into a cocktail shaker. Remove rosemary needles from the bottom 3/4 of the sprig and add to the shaker. Save the top of the sprig for use as a garnish. Add ice to shaker and shake. Double strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with the remaining rosemary sprig.

We used Woodford Reserve and it was still a darn fine drink.

Three simple tips, three great reasons to get excited for summer gardening. Get out there and enjoy this amazing weather!




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