The summer garden is all about maintenance. Keep the garden cool by watering wisely in the morning and by mulching all plants. Remove all weeds as they appear.The summer garden is all about enjoyment and maintenance. In the summer, we have a bountiful supply of things to nibble and flowers and foliage to admire. The house is teeming with full vases of color. However, there is still some work to be done, some jobs that cannot be ignored.
In early summer, it is time to plant those late-season vegetables that need warm temperatures to thrive. Transplant tomatoes, peppers and eggplants (Solanum sp.) as well as squash, pumpkins and cucumbers (Cucurbita sp.) for a harvest in the late summer and early fall.
All plants, annuals and perennials alike, need to be kept cool as the summer heats up. Most plants should receive approximately one inch of water per week so if rain is scarce, be sure to water your plants. Water your garden wisely and deeply, watering in the morning, not past 10 am, to prevent evaporation and leaf-burn. Another very important way to keep the garden cool is to mulch. All trees, shrubs and perennials will benefit greatly from a few inches of mulch. This will keep the roots systems cool and will prevent weeds from sprouting. Mulch can also be applied to the annual and vegetable beds. Many different mulches may be used, including straw, grass clippings and wood chips.
Weeds can be a serious problem in the summer and can crowd out your plants, if they are not removed. Weed roots are generally easier to remove in wet soil so add weeding to your morning routine, after watering. Do not add invasive weeds, such as Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum), to the compost pile; their roots and rhizomes will re-sprout when you use the compost in the garden, perpetuating their invasive presence. Remove any weed by the roots, getting the entire plant out, before it has gone to seed, to prevent it from spreading its offspring around the garden.
Watch for infestations in the summer months. Insects, like aphids, can become true menaces to some plants, while diseases, such as powdery mildew, can affect others. By being watchful, recognizing the signs of infestation early and acting immediately, the gardener can avoid losing plants to an insect or disease.
Harvest strawberries (Fragaria sp.) and any vegetables as they become ripe. Many edible plants, like snow peas (Pisum sativum), benefit from frequent harvesting and will produce more, if picked often. Enjoy the beauty and bounty of the summer garden, while sipping iced tea on the porch. However, be sure that the upkeep and maintenance are well-looked after, for continued health and harvest.