Gear up for the Summer Gardening Season

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Get ready for the summer ~ Black Fox Homestead.com

While the official first day of summer is still some weeks away, Tax Day is the start of the warm weather growing season in our zone.

In spite of a lingering winter and  the warm weather taking it’s time to arrive, when it gets here, it strikes with a vengeance and by mid June the temperatures are starting to soar.

It is not unusual for us to have lovely mild spring weather one week, followed immediately by incredibly intense heat that can cause our newly set out tomatoes and squash to drop their blossoms.

With such drastic weather conditions, success in the garden depends a lot on careful planning beforehand.

Following are a few things we have found to be helpful in order to be ready for the summer season:

1. Evaluate  your mulch supply

Make sure that you have enough on hand to give your garden beds several inches thick of mulch.  This will help conserve the moisture in the soil, thereby reducing your water bill.  Before buying mulch check to see if your city offers a green waste site where wood chip mulch can be picked up for free.

speaking of water have you considered that you might…

2. Install a rain barrel

When be built our home last summer we had four barrels installed at each of the four corners of Rain barrelour home.  During our wet spring these have become full to the brim.

While filling a watering can from a barrel is not as efficient as using a hose, once again, we’re able to save on our water bill by using this free resource.

Before having one installed however, make sure that water collection in your area is legal.  As crazy as it sounds there are some states where the rain that falls from the sky does not belong to you and cannot be used for your garden.

3. Stock up on fertilizer

Do you have enough to keep your tomatoes and zinnias happy?  We like to use a diluted natural fish emulsion fertilizer every two weeks in our garden.  Make sure you have plenty on hand so you don’t get caught short.

4. Get ready to battle the pests

The heat often times brings with it a barrage of pests such as tomato horn worms and

A cabbage worm devouring my arugula

spidermites.

Regardless of how you decide to deal with them, you do need to have a plan of action in mind whether it is a natural insecticide such as Pyola or managing them on your own by physically removing them.

If you are not familiar with the pests in your area, take the time to research them now, so you can be prepared when you discover them (and you will). Your county extension office should have some available resources that will be helpful in this area.

Here is more information on pest management.

5. Plant seeds!

Hot Chocolate RudbeckiaAs soon as there is no longer any danger of a hard frost, annuals such as zinnias, sunflowers, and marigolds can be sown by seed directly into the garden bed; so can your warm weather vegetables  and herbs such as pole beans, squash, and basil.

you can also…

 

6. Select your warm weather vegetable transplants

Once the temperatures start to get well above 80 degrees the lettuces will start to bolt and turn

Cherokee Purple Seedlings

Cherokee Purple Seedlings

bitter, so we turn our attention instead to crops like tomatoes and peppers.  I have learned the hard way that Day 1 of “warm weather” planting season does not mean that is the day to set out tomatoes.  The soil still needs a few weeks to warm up in order to have a successful start.

If you wish to start  these from seed, you would have needed to be doing this indoors for some weeks already.  If you have missed your window of opportunity, no worries!  You can simply purchase transplants.   Try to select some healthy ones that have been locally grown from a local nursery as vs.  those that have been shipped in to a big box store. They have already acclimated to your climate and should do better in your garden than those that have been grown elsewhere and shipped in.   If you are unsure of what varieties thrive in your area, check with your county extension office to see what sort of varieties they would recommend.

 What do you do to prepare for summer gardening in your area?

This is the fertilizer we like to use throughout our garden. Since the amount is duluted, a little bit goes a long way.
This rain barrel is very similar to the ones that we use. If you do not wish to purchase a decorative one, they are easily made. Instructions may be found all over the internet.

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Gear up for the Summer Gardening Season — 15 Comments

  1. With our house STILL under construction, I’m trying to patiently await the back corner of my yard being ready to plant. Seeing as how we’re in NE, I have a couple more weeks before it’s too late. *fingers crossed*

    Excellent post – you gave me some good things to add to my dream / wish list for this year.

    • Terri, I totally understand. We built our place last year, this is our first summer here. Right now we’re just doing our vegetable garden because that is our source of income, but I’m really wishing I had the time to do some pretty stuff around our house. Maybe next year. Best wishes on your new place!

  2. I just planted the first of our cool weather crops in my garden yesterday. :) I feel so behind the times as I read about all the gardens further south! Ah well, such is life. :)

    Enjoy the spring weather while it’s still here!

    • Spring here is so challenging. It is beautiful one day and freezing the next. That is pretty much why fruit trees just don’t grow well here. I’m hoping that the weather will be mild enough for a while yet so we can have some tomatoes and peppers before the triple digits set in.

  3. We started putting our little seedlings in the ground the week before Easter, since we were going to be out of town the week after. The remaining little guys went to my Grandparent’s house, hopefully they’re still okay. We’ve never done a rain barrel. As there is a bayou running right behind my house, my dad hooked up a pump years ago that he uses to pump bayou water through pvc pipe across the yard and garden. Pre-fertilized water. :)

    • Elizabeth that is really interesting. We have a large pond and my husband is wanting to figure out a way to pump out the water so we can use that too.

  4. So I wonder what one is supposed to do when it rains on the garden? Hee hee! You’re right about checking with ordinances. One never knows. Great tips, Jenny, as always!

    • Yeah I know. Ha. And then there are those that say you shouldn’t use the water harvested to water your garden. ::scratches head:: Thank you! :) Hope all is well.

    • Well besides these I have the pink oxheart that you sent (and I am soooo excited about) and some cream sausage. I can’t wait to see how they all look together.

    • Mulching is pretty easy. It is just a matter of getting it on there thick enough and pulling it away from the base of the plant to avoid disease. It really does cut back on the amount of watering one has to do.