4 Tips to Growing When the Going Gets Hot


Gardens are pretty magic, especially in the spring. Soil is freshly turned, the air is cool, seeds are planted, and everything seems possible. Then the weeks roll on, and slowly but surely, summer arrives. As your harvest starts to come in, the days are getting hotter, the pests are getting bigger, and the weeds are getting higher.

Sound familiar? You’re not alone! July in Tennessee can be a tough time to stay motivated to get outside and face what seems like an endless wave of weeds, bugs, and humidity. But season after season, you may find yourself being drawn back in.

How do you stay motivated to keep gardening? We asked our staff to share their tips and advice on staying inspired and active in their own gardens.

  1. Do a Little Every Day

Do a little bit every day, preferably in the morning or evening when it’s cool and you can stay out of the sun. If there’s an area with loads of weeds, use the summer sun’s power to kill them by mulching the area with black plastic for awhile. Another tactic could be putting down a thin layer of cardboard covered with compost for weed killing.
— Julia Reynolds-Thompson, Director of Garden Operations

2. Don’t Just Work, Enjoy!

My favorite thing to do to stay motivated in the garden is to not just go out to the space to work, especially when it’s hot! I like to reserve some time early in the morning or as the sun is setting to just spend some time in the garden enjoying the abundance and beauty of the space. To pick a few flowers or fruits just for myself to enjoy and to sit and watch and listen as birds and bees move happily around me. It’s a grounding time and reminds me why we work so hard to grow our own!

Also... Buy a nice stirrup hoe. They are the best.
— Christa Bentley, Interim Chief Programs Officer

3. It’s Better Together

Ask a friend to help you! I’m not the best at asking for help - and honestly not the best at acting out this advice - but the times I’ve asked or had a friend offer to work with me not only helps knock out some weeds, it’s also been a great way to spend time together and share some veggies. The best times have been when we can cook a meal together afterward.
— Grace Biggs, Impact Manager

4. Remember why You Work

I’m motivated by thinking about how growing food is an act of resilience! The more that I practice and share in the practice with others, the more knowledge and experience I can hold and share with future generations.

For me, getting in my garden after I work is a way to decompress and to be present and engaged with my surroundings. It’s something that makes me feel alive. So, that’s pretty motivating, too!
— Lauren Bailey, Director of Garden Programs

Why do you garden? What keeps you motivated? Let us know in the comments!

If you don’t have a garden of your own and feel inspired to dig your hands into the dirt, we welcome you to volunteer with us! Click here to learn more about volunteering in our garden as either an individual or a group.