8 Summer gardening tips

We'll soon be ready to start planting our summer gardens, but there are a few things to do first.

The location - One of the most important things to consider when planting a garden is location. Most summer vegetables need 6 to 8 hours of sun a day, so pick the sunniest place in your yard.

Preparing the soil - You can't grow healthy crops if you don't have healthy soil. Before starting, consider doing a soil test to see what nutrients may be lacking.

Loosen the soil - Before planting, loosen the soil with a broad fork, rake the bed, and cover the entire bed with 4 inches of compost and add a good organic vegetable fertilizer. Work that into the top 6 inches of your soil, then you're ready to plant.

Choose the right plant at the right time - Vegetables are divided into two categories -- warm season and cool season. With few exceptions, you can't grow warm crops in cool weather, and vice versa.

Choose the most popular plant - The most popular warm weather crops include tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, beans, cucumbers and squash, carrots and radishes.

Forget the rows and plant in a grid - You can fit more plants into a bed using the grid system.

The benefits to grid planting - is that as the plants grow, they shade the soil beneath, preventing wind and water erosion and suppressing weeds in the beds. The plants also grow in a carbon dioxide bubble, creating a rich growing environment.

Take advantage of the space you have - You only need 200 square feet of space to grow enough produce to feed a family of four in a year. Close, grid planting makes that possible, taking advantage of the space you have.