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
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
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!
As 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
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?
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