The following are some tips to keep your garden at its peak performance during the summer months. We hope you find these suggestions helpful!
Slow Down Weeds Organically
Weeds grow fast during the hot summer months and plants dry out quickly. To slow down your weeds, enrich the soil and keep it moist at the same time. Apply a thick layer (2 to 3 inches) of compost and/or straw around the plants. Leave a small gap for air circulation around the stem or crown.
When to Weed
Try to weed once a week. Weeds take away the nutrients in the soil intended for your plants. The best time to pull those weeds is after some light rainfall, because they become much easier to pull out.
Are you tired of mowing and watering a hungry lawn? Make a “lasagna mulch” right on top without having to dig out the lawn. In about 8 to 10 months the lawn, weeds, cardboard and mulch will be a rich healthy soil ready for planting. The steps are:
- Mow or cut down the weeds, but leave them in place and add more green mulch (grass clippings, green leaves and stems) until it is 2 to 3 inches thick.
- Add cardboard sheets (avoid white cardboard as it has bleach) overlapping the edges by 6 inches. Wet down the cardboard thoroughly.
- Cover the cardboard with arbor mulch (tree chippings).
In June and early July, plant beans and summer squash from seed. In the next two to three months plant cool-season vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, chard, lettuce, spinach, potatoes and onions. In terms of flowers, look around your garden and notice what colors or fragrance you want to add or experiment with. Some fragrant varieties to consider are roses, gardenia, star jasmine, mock orange and citrus. To brighten shady areas plant begonias or impatiens. For late summer color, montbretia’s, cannas, gladioli, tigridias, and tuberous begonias are wonderful ideas.
Watering the Garden
It’s always best to water the plants and grass in the early morning and evening; avoid watering during the daytime heat. Do not over-water; over-watering plants can drown the roots. Adequate water in the root zone area should be your greatest concern. However, do not waste water. Using plenty of mulch in the soil when you plant will stabilize soil temperature and help retain moisture. Using a layer of mulch on top of the soil will help to reduce the rate of evaporation.
Deadhead Remaining Spring Bulbs That Have Faded
Deadheading refers to the removal of dead or spent flowers either to encourage more flowering or to improve the general appearance of the plant. Clip off any seed pods that may have formed on your daffodils, tulips, grape hyacinths, etc. This will encourage growth underground for next year’s blooms. Leave the foliage and let it die back naturally. This lets the plant feed itself and the parent bulb for next spring as well.
Mulching your garden with grass clippings and leaves throughout the summer is essential. It conserves water by keeping the soil moist and preventing it from cracking during hot summer days, prevents weeds, encourages earthworms, moderates soil temperature for optimum root growth, and improves the soil as it decomposes. A layer of 2 to 4 inches of mulch decreases evaporation by 70%. Before mulching, water first so that the mulch will preserve the moisture. If you mulch before watering, the mulch will keep the soil dry instead of preserving moisture.
Be sure to fertilize throughout the summer with your favorite vegan organic fertilizer. Spray this onto your vegetables and trees every two weeks throughout the growing season. It will help increase plant vigor and reduce insect damage.
Harvest Fruits and Vegetables Regularly
Vegetable and herb plantings will yield more when they are harvested regularly and picked when at their peak maturity time. Zucchini and summer squash may need to be harvested every day. Cucumbers and tomatoes need to be watched carefully and mature fruit removed promptly so the vines are not damaged by the weight. Corn should be harvested when the silk at the ends of the ears is just starting to brown. Blueberries and strawberries should be harvested as the fruits mature. Check them daily.
Raking leaves is great for the garden. Either compost the leaves or spread on top of the garden to add nutrients to the soil. Leaves make great compost or mulch as they introduce additional nutrients to the soil that get the microbes in it going. However, be careful not to include black walnut leaves because the juglone (natural chemical toxin) in them will stop some garden plants from growing.