Gardeners live for summer. You spend dark, winter days planning and dreaming of what the garden will be this time of year. In the spring you nurture the soil, plant seeds and stand back to admire your work with satisfaction. Come summer, your garden will be bursting with vibrant color, pollinator-attracting blooms and a bountiful summer and fall harvest. But all of your hard work could be lost in the blink of an eye if you are not careful. Make a plant to stay on top of these summer garden chores and make them part of your routine garden maintenance.
Nobody likes to weed, but we all have to do it. Stay on top of the weeds growing in your garden so they do not steal nutrients, water and light from your plants this time of year. It is amazing how quickly a garden can be reclaimed by wild plants and weeds if you are not staying vigilant. The best time to weed is right after a good rain. The weeds can be pulled easily from the soil and you keep the weed trimmer in storage and avoid toxic herbicides altogether.
Mulching does not get enough respect. Probably because how laborious it is, and on a hot day there is nothing you will want to do in the garden less than shoveling a pile dusty, hot mulch. But it has to be done. Mulching keeps down weeds, keeps soil cool and prevents moisture evaporation. We have discussed how to harvest rainwater and ways to prevent overwatering your garden and plants. It would be a real shame to let all that precious water just evaporate into the air.
Annuals and perennials that bloom throughout the summer should have dead flowers pinched off to prevent them wasting energy in producing seeds. Similarly, use your fingers to pinch-off flowers on your herbs, like basil, and greens. Once these set flowers the taste of the leaves changes to a bitter flavor.
4. Planting and Replanting
Summer means the end of cool season gardening. Harvest your cool season crops, pull anything that has bolted (flowered), amend the soil with compost to put back some nutrients, and plant some heat-loving vegetables and herbs in their place. And do not forget to mulch.
Watering is very important this time of year. Your container gardens and hanging plants can quickly burn to a crisp in an afternoon. Do not let summer rains lull you into thinking you do not need to water. Unless your garden got a steady rain that soaked itself into the soil, chances are the rain just barely moistened the surface. Give your plants a deep soaking early in the morning and avoid getting water on the leaves of plants, as this can lead to plant diseases that will ruin your tomato, cucumber, watermelon and squash harvests, to name a few.
Making a visit to the garden every morning or evening when you get home from work will put you into a routine and you will be able to spot any issues before they become problems. Summer garden chores feel less like chores when you tackle them early instead of waiting for them to balloon into something that makes your feel discouraged and negative about your garden.
Take your morning cup of coffee into the garden and pull a few weeds in between sips. Browse your social media accounts, take pictures of your flowers, the butterflies, ladybugs and plants while you are standing there watering with the hose. Not only will you get watering out of the way, but the early morning light will make your Instagram pictures look a lot better.