Now that the summer solstice has officially passed, a full season of summer gardening is upon us! The days are hot, long, and wet, and there is much you can do to make the most of these fertile conditions. You’ve probably already done a lot of preparation for your summer garden, but, as all gardeners know, the labor of planning and planting and maintaining a healthy backyard ecosystem is never really done. Here are some “official start of summer” gardening tips to give you an idea of how to prep for the busy and beautiful months ahead:
Though we’ve been getting a healthy amount of rain as of late, southern summers are not devoid of the occasional dry spell. On particularly hot and humid days, water evaporates rapidly and your plants will need regular waterings to make up for lost moisture. Be sure to water the roots of your plants and avoid overwatering–you may want to wait and see if that afternoon thunderstorm comes to fruition before planning an extra watering session. Overwatered plants can become misshapen, mushy, and discolored.
Your plants are taking advantage of these long, hot days by trying to soak up as much sunlight and nutrients as possible. They shouldn’t have to compete with weeds and other invasive plant life. For your plants to thrive, regular weeding is a necessary summer labor. Pull weeds out by the roots to ensure they won’t come back.
Harvest Cool Season Crops
Some crops you planted during the spring are now ready to be harvested and enjoyed! Broccoli, peas, cauliflower, and lettuce can all be harvested. In a couple weeks, biennials like carrots and collard greens should also be ready to harvest. Keep checking up on growing plants, inspecting for signs of pests and disease. There are many critters about eager to get into summer gardens. Be sure to have some kind of defense against hungry animals, such as foul-tasting pellets or a wire fence.
Support Warm Season Crops
Your warm season crops should already be showing considerable progress. You should be checking them regularly for insect bites, discoloration, or other problems. You can apply a fresh layer of fertilizer on most warm season crops this time of year. If you’re growing tomatoes, stake them up.
Keep Plants Cool
Sweltering summer days can scorch plants and cause irreparable damage. To keep plants cool, apply a fresh layer of mulch over roots. Mulch can help regulate ground temperature and protect your plants from temperature extremes.