Produce That's Ripe For The Picking In Spring/Summer!

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 23 September 2014

Spring and Summer means more glorious fresh produce for cooking and eating! We can hardly wait to get our thumbs green again and have lots of our very own produce to cook up some fabulous feasts with!

When it comes to cooking and eating- seasonal is best. When you work with what’s readily available and fresh, it is more flavoursome, nourishing, nutritious and also a little lighter on your wallet!

So what’s in season in the coming months that you can get stuck in to with both your trowel and teeth? It doesn’t matter whether you're a seasoned green thumb, have never kept a plant alive, live on acreage or in an inner-city apartment; this article will show you how to have the best success with growing some of this season's finest in your own backyard- and how you can make use of your fresh and fine produce!



  • Lemons

Lemons are one the most versatile fruits of all- it’s uses are endless. From baking into pies, squeezing onto fish or using as a cleaning agent- lemons are back and better than ever in spring.

lemons are amazing in food or as a homemade cleaner

Not a Green Thumb?

So you don’t have an expansive backyard, best forget the idea of having a lovely lemon tree, right- wrong! With new dwarf varieties, you can grow yourself a delightful citrus bearing tree on a small balcony- as long as it can get lots of sun and is in a well drained container. With regular watering and little fertiliser, even novice gardeners can have lots lovely lemons! Busting for the loo? It’s a well known fact that urinating on the soil around lemon trees is in fact beneficial to the plant...

Growing Tips

Lemons are very sensitive to the cold, which is why they thrive in the warmer seasons, so make sure they are planted in a well-drained soil in a lovely sunny area of the garden. Water regularly, fertilise occasionally and prune when needed to keep your lemon tree thriving.

How to Use

Coming into warmer weather we’ll be squeezing these babies onto lots of lovely fresh seafood, grating the zest into our favourite pasta dishes and of course baking a lovely lemon meringue pie!

Got Chickens?

Citrus fruits make fantastic all natural cleaners, and are a great alternative to using harsh chemicals, especially in your favourite flocks humble abode. Check out our article Natural Homemade Coop Cleaner, to learn how you can use your lovely lemons to keep your coop ultra clean.
  • Figs

These hard to find fruit are a favourite of ours- there’s nothing quite like tucking into the soft and sweet flesh of a fig, especially when it is freshly picked from your own fig tree!

figs are a fresh, natural dessert

Not a Green Thumb?

Due to difficulties with transportation (they’re just so soft and delicate!), figs are a rare find, which is what makes them a must-have addition to your garden. Fig trees are known as being virtually trouble-free, so if you’re not so Don Burke- you’re in luck, as they won’t require hours of care. Better yet- once it becomes large enough you can place a picnic mat underneath with a glass of wine, cheese and olives, and pick them straight from the tree- bon apetit!

Growing Tips

Fig trees thrive in mediterranean climates, so growing here in Australia is safe. Ensure they are planted in a large, sunny area protected from winds and are watered regularly. It won’t be long before you are enjoying fresh figs straight from the tree to your mouth- how it should be!

How to Use

While we think they are at their best fresh from the tree, figs pair fabulously with melted goats cheese on a crostini, drizzled with a balsamic glaze, or if you are after something of the sweet variety, bake them into a decadent and delicious tart!

Got Chickens?

If you love spending lots of quality time with your girls, bond with them over a fig or two. Figs are completely safe for your girls to nibble, it’s just a matter of whether they like the taste- if not, more for you!
  • Strawberries

Ahhh strawberries! They’re sweet and juicy, they’re the perfect snack size, and they’re easy to grow- how could we not love them!

strawberries are many people's favourite summer fruit

Not a Green Thumb?

You may live in the city with a small balcony as a makeshift ‘garden’, but you can most definitely still have an abundance of sensational strawberries stocking your fridge. Strawberry plants actually grow best in a container, as long as they are given lots of sun, have moist soil at all times, and are protected from pesky birds and other eagle-eyed animals. Water them as you wake while you enjoy your morning coffee, and soon you will be enjoying the delicious fruits of your labour!

Growing Tips

Strawberries can also be planted in and grown from the ground, and the same rules apply- lots of sun, ample water, and a rich soil is the formula for success.

How to Use

Hydration is key to staying healthy through the long and hot spring and summer days, so to jazz up our water a little, we will be adding in some sliced strawberries-yum! Toss them through a spinach salad for a match made in heaven, and of course dip them in chocolate for an almost guilt-free dessert!

Got Chickens?

If you want to spoil your girls, chop up some strawberries (the tops included) for them, and watch them go crazy! Another idea? Freeze strawberries in an ice cube tray with mint, for a cooling and healthy treat that is sure to keep them happy and cool on particularly hot days.


  • Beetroot

This sweet, pink vegetable should be on the top of everybody’s spring planting list- whether you consider yourself a seasoned gardener or not! Having it fresh and aplenty will mean your salads are never a bore, and every Sunday roast will have an extra tasty side!

beetroots are tasty had fresh or in a roast

Not a Green Thumb?

Even though it may be a root crop, beetroot grows fantastically in containers, making them a perfect addition to any small or balcony gardens- their foliage looks fantastic too! It is also one of the easiest vegetables to grow, so if gardening isn’t exactly your forte, not to worry. Make sure you have a container that is least 30cm in diameter, and the bottom is filled with a hard core, such as bits of broken brick or pot to act as drainage. Fill the remainder with a good quality potting mix, make sure it is well watered, sow and watch it grow!

Growing Tips

September is prime growing time for beetroot, so get sowing! Like most vegetables, beetroots will thrive in a sunny spot that has good drainage, so choose a spot in your backyard that can accommodate this. Place seedlings approximately 3 cm apart, water and cover in- then patiently wait for your roots to become beets! To keep beets healthy throughout the seasons, feed them the nutrient boron (found at all good gardening stores in powder form). Just dissolve about a teaspoon to your watering can and water over the soil at planting time- you will have big, beautiful beets in no time!

How to Use

When most people think of beetroots, they imagine it tossed through a salad, or roasted alongside potatoes, pumpkin and pork. While we definitely will be using it for all of the above, we also love to use beetroot to indulge our sweet tooth with a decadent beetroot and chocolate cake- to die for!

Got Chickens?

Beetroots are an absolute treat for your feathered friends- both nutritious and delicious! They can be eaten cooked or raw, and don’t throw away the greens and stalks- they’re a favourite too!

  • Cabbage

While it may not be the most glamorous looking vegetable in the fresh produce section of the supermarket, the humble cabbage is filled with a wealth of important nutrients and has disease-fighting qualities that make is a must-have addition for your veggie patch! Oh, and it also tastes great!

Not a Green Thumb?

Stuck for space but want lots of lovely crisp and fresh cabbage? Not to worry- you can now buy smaller sized hybrids and grow them in a container, perfect for small courtyards and townhouses.

Growing Tips

Cabbage is a very easy to care for plant, with regular watering and fertilizing, you should be able to easily maintain a thriving and tasty crop. It also makes for a great companion plant when neighboured with celery, dill, mint, rosemary, garlic, peas or onions.

How to Use

Forget those boring coleslaw recipes- get a little more creative in the kitchen with cabbage! Using red cabbage and a few other bits and pieces whip up a tasty and filling red cabbage salad. Pickle it and serve it as a tasty and colourful accompaniment to cheese or meat, or jar and give it as a different, albeit- delicious gift.

Got Chickens?

If you are lucky enough to have a feathered flock and grow cabbages- your girls are in luck! A head of cabbage is an absolute treat for chickens- just tie a piece of string around it and hang it up in the coop, and watch your girls play and peck at it for hours.

  • Peas

These protein packed powerhouses may be frowned upon by many young children, but both gardeners and foodies can agree, that peas are quite the perfect produce.

Not a Green Thumb?

With new dwarf varieties available, you don’t need an expansive backyard with a large vine to grow yourself a lovely pea crop, instead they can grow in containers in a relatively small space. However, as most are climbers, you will need to provide them with some sort of trellis to support them- a bamboo stake or branch will suffice.

Growing Tips

Peas are real sun lovers and will thrive when placed in full sun, paired with well-drained soil with added compost for a hit of nutrition.

How to Use

There are so many ways you can use peas it’s ridiculous. Steam them as a delicious side to a Sunday roast, mix them into a delicious frittata (using your backyard chickens fresh eggs of course!), make a comforting pea and ham soup, or just snack on as is!

Got Chickens?

Chickens will love pecking at peas if you toss some in with the daily scraps. They’ll get a great dose of nutritional goodness, as well as a tasty snack.

2. Summer


  • Blackberries, Blueberries, Cherries, Raspberries

Who doesn’t love some fresh berries in their morning yoghurt, or just to snack on throughout the day.

Not a Green Thumb?

Growing berries from scratch is a matter of patience...unfortunately if you’re growing from scratch, it’ll take a few years for the plants to bear lots of plentiful fruit. You can grow the berries in large pots if you’re rocking the urban veggie patch. Fill 2/3rds of the pot with potting mix, and the final 3rd with a potting mix designed for acidic plants.

Growing Tips

Put the plants in a spot where they have access to full sun to grow- this is essential! Also, berries need lots of water to thrive - so try and keep the soil constantly moist.

Got Chickens?

Chickens absolutely adore their berries! A brilliant sweet treat in summer is to freeze the berries into ice cubes, and leave them for the chicken to peck at. It keeps them occupied, and cools them down!

How To Use

Blend up with some fresh yoghurt for a mixed berry smoothie, toss into some nourishing bircher muesli or freeze and snack on throughout the day for a cool treat.

  • Nectarines and plums

Who doesn’t love biting into a fleshy, juicy nectarine in the warmer weather? They are a summery sweet fruit that blooms in the warmer months, and will become a staple in your fruit salads and refreshing desserts all season long.

Not a Green Thumb?

Nectarines and plums are a tricky one for the urbanites, as they grow on trees- so you are going to need a significant backyard to put them in.

Growing Tips

Nectarines and plums need to be kept in full sun, for the most part of the day. Give them a healthy dose of mulch and compost, and prune regularly.

Got Chickens?

We’re sure that the chickens would love to pick at some fleshy, juicy stone fruits if you tossed them some- who wouldn’t?

How To Use

Segment and put into fresh fruit salads, make them into tasty jams, and of course who can go past a plum and nectarine pudding or crumble.

b) Veggies

  • Chillies

chilli peppers are easy to grow and can make a dish

Not a Green Thumb?

Chillies thrive in small pots, so you can definitely grow some in your urban backyard.

Growing Tips

When growing chillies, keep the soil moist (not soaked). Also, ensure that it is constantly warm, around 26-32 degrees centigrade is optimal. They need this warmth in order to develop.

Got Chickens?

Yeesh - we’re not sure if we’d feed chillies to our might be a bit too intense for them, even if they don’t realise it! Chillies can cause the chickens intestines to become inflamed, so it’s probably not the best idea - especially because their receptors don’t pick up the ‘hot’ sensation. They might snaffle up a whole bunch without knowing the damage they could have done!

How To Use

A mexicano fan? You can’t really have fresh mexican without tossing some chillies in! Also, they go a treat in spicy curries. If you’re game you can eat them as is, but you must really, really like spicy food!

  • Snow Peas

Who doesn’t love the crunch of a fresh snow pea? So refreshing and delicious! Snow peas are a staple veggie in stir fries around the world, because of their delightful texture - tender and crisp at the same time. The good news is they’re also packed with nutrients- delicious and nutritious!

Not a Green Thumb?

One thing we love about snow peas- they are quick growing veggies. From planting until picking, you’ll only have to wait about 60 days! You can have one snow pea plant in a pot if you’ve not got much room to grow them, just make sure you prop them up with something as they need support.

Growing Tips

Snow pea plants need to be supported, so prop them up with some twigs, posts or wire mesh. A nice bit of compost and a decent amount of water will keep them growing healthily (they’ll definitely need constant watering when they’re at the flowering stage, and the pods are developing).

Got Chickens?

Your chickens will love pecking at the peas inside fresh snow peas - they’ll devour the whole lot if you let them. Yummo!

How To Use

Snow peas are a stir fry staple - you can’t really have a stir fry without them! They also go great as a side with other asian steamed greens like bok choy. We like snow peas so much we eat them right out of the packet - so there’s always that option!

Other delicious summer vegetables:

  • Cucumber

Crisp cucumbers are the staple of any salad, a super cool addition to a refreshing glass of water, or if you fancy- a lovely facial mask to soothe puffy eyes.  Cucumbers grow on the vine in summer, and you’ll enjoy every refreshing bite.

  • Lettuce

Another crisp seasonal favourite - lettuce is a lot more versatile than people often give it credit for. Use in place of wraps or tacos for a healthy, crunchy twist, or just tear up as is and use in side salads.

  • Tomatoes

tomatoes are a staple in almost every cuisine around the world

Fresh tomatoes are a must have for any italian cuisine lovers, or ham, cheese and tomato toastie enthusiasts! Tomato plants need space, lots of light, comforting heat in the soil and the occasional breeze in order to grow into healthy strong produce, as well as water of course.

  • Turnips

There’s nothing more satisfying than pulling a big, purple turnip bulb out of the ground. Turnips can be eaten raw or cooked, depending on your taste preferences.  They should be planted in drained, turned over soil (which should be kept moist once seeds are planted).

  • Zucchini

We love zucchini’s and throw them into every meal we can - they’re so unbelievably versatile. Roast them, steam them, throw into curries and bolognaises, or peel them into zoodles for a healthy pasta alternative. Zucchini’s love the warmth and grow fast- you can expect your first crop 6-8 weeks after planting.

  • Beans

Crunchy fresh beans in a summer salad, or as a healthy snack, are just the ticket for hot summer days.  Sow the bean seeds in fertile, loose soil, and pick them off when they have just bloomed for optimal crunch! Beans grow plentifully, so keep picking them regularly.

  • Capsicums

Capsicums are a crunchy, flavoursome vegetables that come in a wide variety of vibrant colours including red, green and yellow...they’ll definitely liven up your backyard! Capcisums start off small, bushy plants that stand to be approximately 40cms high. They thrive best in a warm place where they’re sheltered.

  • Carrots

Growing carrots is a lot of fun, even if they don’t necessarily come out the way you expect. Who hasn’t pulled out a carrot, only to find it’s not the traditional shape of the vegetable- oh well, it tastes the same anyway! Carrots grow well in loose soil free from any stones and lumps. They’re also quite quick to grow, taking about 3 weeks to sprout.

  • Celery

Mmmm...refreshing celery. We love dipping it into a nice bit of crunchy peanut butter for a tasty snack. Celery needs lots of water and rich soil to grow healthily. Plant out of the way of direct sun, in an area with good air circulation.

There’s so much good, fresh produce that’s perfect for picking in summer. Look out for these fruits and veggies in abundance at your local produce store or better yet - start planting your own little crops!

Sources and further reading