By mid-summer, perennial gardens can start to look overgrown, annual flowers begin to fade, and bugs may be munching on your vegetables. Savvy Gardening is here to help! We thought we’d share some of our top tips for revitalizing your flower gardens, and keeping those veggies in high production all summer long.
- Trim back the perennial plants that are done blooming to clean up dead flower spikes and remove seed pods. This will help to keep the perennial garden looking its best, and make the flowers that are currently in bloom really stand out.
- Deadhead annual flowers to give the plants a boost and encourage more blooms. Simply pinch off any faded flowers and seed pods from the plants, and soon they will be covered with flowers again.
- Squash borers are a common pest in the vegetable garden, and this is the time of year they start to rear their ugly heads. Check around the base of your squash vines for signs of the borers. If you see mushy sawdust or holes in the vine, you can save the plants by digging out the squash borers and burying the vines with dirt.
- Don’t be afraid to give plants a haircut: Some of my annuals, like the petunias and calibrachoas – both in the garden and in my containers – were starting to look a little bedraggled from the heat. I gave them a few judicious snips here and there and they are looking much better.
- Struggling with weeds? I am. Bindweed is ruining my life. It makes me want to move and make it someone else’s problem. I have one long strip of property between my house and the neighbours’ that has cedars and bindweed (and other rude weeds). I’ve added a thick layer of cedar mulch to try and help keep the weeds at bay.
- Trim your herbs. I feel like I blinked and all of a sudden my cilantro was starting to produce flower buds. I promptly snipped them off. This is a reminder to trim all your herbs regularly so they produce as long as possible!
- Now that the weather has warmed, it’s time to pull out spent cool-season crops including peas, broccoli, radish, and lettuce. Add two inches of compost or aged manure to the area and replant with late-season crops. Second sowings of turnips, carrots, beets, kale, and others will be ready for harvest in fall.
- Harvest a few handfuls of new potatoes from under still-green potato plants by scooting aside the mulch and gently prying them out with a pitchfork. Leave the plant intact, as it will continue to produce more taters until it dies back in late summer. New potatoes have thin skins and should be used in the kitchen within a few days of harvest.
- Feed annuals and container plantings with a foliar fertilizer to boost summer blooming power. Kelp and seaweed fertilizers or fish emulsion products supply nutrients to your plants both through their foliage and their roots. Continue to feed every two weeks through late summer to keep the blooms coming.
- I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but winter is coming! That doesn’t mean the homegrown harvest has to stop, however, and with a little planning, you can enjoy a bumper crop of cool and cold-season crops throughout fall and winter. Root crops like carrots are seeded in mid-summer, but you can wait to sow leafy greens until late August, early September.
- Need a weekend project? A cold frame is a year-round food factory and can be built in just a day or two (depending on your materials and “handy-ness”). We built our three by six-foot frames from two-inch thick local, untreated hemlock and topped them with twinwall polycarbonate for excellent light admission and cold insulation.
- Keep picking! Crops like pole beans and zucchini will stay in high production if you harvest regularly and don’t allow fruits to overmature on the plants. If you find you’ve got too much of a good thing, don’t be shy about sharing your excess crop with neighbours or your local food bank. They always welcome garden produce.
How do your gardens look?