Summer Gardening Tips to Ensure Color Through the Fall
Around mid-summer, depending on the forces of nature (aka weather) and the love and care you’ve provided, your garden may have bloomed into a green paradise, or could be withering away before its time. To perk up puny plants and keep greenery gorgeous for the rest of the growing season, follow these five easy steps to success.
One inch of water per week is a good rule of thumb. If your area is experiencing a very dry summer, or if conditions dictate otherwise, use your best judgment to keep plants from getting too dry. A soaker hose is preferable to watering from above, delivering more water closer to plant roots. Water in the morning to ensure that plants stay hydrated during the warmest part of the day. And try to avoid getting water on leaves and blooms where it can promote rot, mold or fungus.
Mulch helps keep the ground around plant stems moist and cool, making the most of the water you’ve provided. Choose mulch made from organic matter that will decompose and further enrich the soil around your plants. Opt for natural forms of fertilizer like chicken or cow manure, or use common kitchen discards like coffee grounds, egg shells (washed and crushed), or banana peels (whirl in a blender with water to liquify the peels) to make your own natural fertilizers.
Weeds can take over in short order if you’re not paying attention, especially if your garden is already stressed due to excessive heat or dry conditions. Consistent hand weeding is easily the most earth-friendly way to keep your garden looking neat and tidy. Organic and natural weed control products are preferable to harsh traditional formulations which can harm bees and other pollinators. If you want to try your hand at DIY weed control, look online for weed killer “recipes” that contain a combination of vinegar, salt and simple dish soap for spot treatment of weeds. Use this type of weed killer as a spot treatment; avoid spraying on foliage to prevent damage.
Bugs love warm weather – wet or dry – and can become a real nuisance in your summer plantings. There are lots of ways to keep bugs at bay that won’t harm valuable plants including traps, barriers and botanical insecticides. Soap and oil-based insect control products can be effective without damaging plants, and depending on the type of pest you’re trying to control, there are other insects that prey on caterpillars, aphids, earwigs and more that you can order online. Be sure to check any local regulations and understand how long it will take for your “pest destroyers” to mature as they typically are shipped as egg cases, not adult insects.
DIY insect control recipes use common kitchen staples like garlic, mint, hot pepper flakes and coffee grounds, plus great-smelling oils like eucalyptus, lavender and rosemary. You’ll find lots of suggestions online; be sure to choose a remedy that will work on your specific pest, in your area.
Maintenance and more
Like weeding, regular garden maintenance like pinching back plants to promote fullness, deadheading to encourage new blooms, and dividing plants like iris, hosta and sedum will keep your garden from looking leggy or overgrown. Colorful annuals can perk up a sea of green plants that have finished blooming.
Finally, not to wish away summer, but late summer is the perfect time to start planning and planting an edible garden to enjoy in the fall. Colorful kale and chard can add color now, and a yield healthy harvest of veggies later.