Summer Garden Chores

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With the official start of summer, your spring planting is complete. However, your work in the garden is not. With the summer comes watering, maintenance and harvesting.

The summer days bring heat and humidity, so try to work in your garden early in the morning or late in the afternoon or evening.  This will help keep you energized while working to keep your plants energized.

Be sure to keep your plants watered, especially any new perennials, trees or shrubs. It is best to water at the base of the plants, not getting their foliage too wet, and in the morning when they have time to dry off and not sit wet all night.  Sitting wet all night can cause rot and disease to form on your plants. This is also a good time to check your mulch.  Remember, a thick layer of mulch not only helps with preventing weeds but also with keeping the soil moist.

With your plants having been planted now for a few weeks, it is time to start fertilizing. Using a fertilizer with a high middle number on flowers will help the blooms keep going, while using organic fertilizers like compost, manure or other store-bought brands on vegetables and other crops.

While you fertilize your plants, check the foliage for nutrient deficiency. One example is to look at leaves that are a light or lime green, not including plants like sweet potato vine that are supposed to be lime green, are lacking in nitrogen. You can find fertilizers specific to the nutrients your plants are lacking, or use a general fertilizer.

Now is also the time to pinch back any fall blooming perennials like mums and asters.  This will give them time to branch out and re-bud, giving you a beautiful show come August and September. You will want to wait to plant any additional perennials until the heat subsides.  Planting or moving them now can cause shock to the plants.  If you have perennials you want to divide but didn’t get to them in the spring, make sure you mark the plants so you know which to dig up and divide in the fall.  (It can be hard to determine where one variety of irises stops and another starts when they are not blooming.)

Along with pinching back perennials, you will want to dead-head your annuals. This means cutting off the spent flowers so that the plant continues to produce blooms all summer long.

As far as your vegetable garden, keep your plants well watered. Get all of your warm season vegetables planted, and keep your tomatoes properly staked.  Come mid-July, some of your plants will be ready to harvest.  Keep up with harvesting, preventing the crop from going bad while still on the plant or vine. In July you will want to start planting your fall crops.

During the hot summer months, it is a great time to take any houseplants you have inside out to a shady spot in the yard or on a porch.  This will help them get the humidity they love and they will grow and flourish.  Just be sure to take these back in the house in September when the temperatures start to fall again.

Finally, watch for pests on your plants.  Japanese beetles first make their appearance come June, and these can be sprayed once you see them or simply picked off and killed by hand.  Other pests include spider mites, thrips, and fruit worms.  Treat all of these as you see them, but be sure to check regularly before they can harm too much of your plant.

One final chore you can do is to take photos of your containers at their peak of blooming. This will allow you to easily re-create the ones you love next year, or what did not work and what not to repeat.

All in all, the summer is a great time to get outside and enjoy what you’ve planted. With a little bit of maintenance, your gardens will continue thriving, giving you that much more to enjoy.

Christian Goers