Well, it’s about time it warmed up, right? The yo-yo weather of spring into summer has left most of us on our toes. It looks like we might *finally* be past *most* cool temperatures. (Though not all.) Stay vigilant and check the weather frequently!
Here are our top six tips for successful gardening as we transition from spring to summer.
1. Embrace Direct Sowing!
It’s easier to grow some plants from transplants (more on that in a minute). However, many veggies are super easy to grow from seed, and establish better in the garden when grown from seed sown directly into the garden. Overall, beans, peas, squash, zucchini, pumpkins, melons, and root vegetables grow best when direct-sown. Some of your favorite summer flowers are easy to grow from seed, too. Look for packets of cosmos, cleome (spider flower), sunflowers, and zinnias to add great summer color. The time to sow seeds for summer is now! Hopefully you’ve already prepped your garden beds but if not, get some great tips here.
2. Harden-Off Transplants
Let’s talk transplants. Whether you grew your own or continue to purchase transplants from the garden center, before you plant them, you need to do what is called “hardening off.” You will gradually expose these young plants to the outdoors before you plant them in your garden. The reason to do this is that seedlings may struggle to survive if you yank them out of their nice, comfy and controlled indoor environment and throw them straight into the garden. Hardening off is crucial to gardening success. It’s also something that most gardening instructions leave out.
Here’s how you do it:
- Set plants in a protected area outside (under a tree, on a porch) for a few hours on the first day. Bring them inside at night. Do this for a few days.
- After two to three days, set plants out in the sun in a less protected area for a few hours in the morning, then move to a protected area in the afternoon. Do this for a few days.
- After four to five days, you can plant plants outside.
It might seem like extra work, but your plants will thank you!
Extra tip: water plants immediately after planting. This helps establish good contact between your plant’s rootball and the surrounding soil. Also a vital step!
3. Mulch, Mulch, Mulch!
Mulching suppresses weeds but more importantly, conserves soil moisture, so be sure to add a good 1-3” layer in your planting beds, depending on need. The warmer your area, the deeper your mulch layer can and likely needs to be. (Just avoid heaping mulch up onto the plant’s stems or trunk). Our Organic Mechanics® Planting Mix Compost Blend is an excellent choice for mulching all gardens, including veggie gardens. Remember, if you have problems with slugs and soft bodied plant munchers, put down some diatomaceous earth before and after you mulch to keep them at bay!
Second-guessing the idea of mulch? Give yourself a couple of weeks. As the weather really heats up, you’ll really notice the difference between mulched areas and unmulched areas.
4. Water Plants Correctly
All those beautiful plants and tasty veggies won’t do too well without adequate — and proper — watering. A good rule of thumb is to water less frequently, but more deeply, so the water gets to the roots of your plants and stays in the ground longer. Mulching will do amazing things for hydration too. It’s not just to keep weeds down, it slows evaporation which means less watering for you! So whether you are hand watering or have a drip or automatic irrigation system, set your watering schedule to make sure your plants get about 1” of water per week. Make a note of plants that need more than an inch of water and plan on directly watering them with the extra inch or so they may require. If it’s especially windy for several days, your plants might need more water.
5. Remember to Fertilize
Even if you’ve done good garden prep and have outstanding soil, most plants need regular food to stay happy — especially edibles. Our plants just work too hard and grow too much to be fully fed by our (usually) suburban soil. The good news is that no matter what kind of plants you have — houseplants, edibles, cactus, native plants, or flowers — Organic Mechanics® 3-2-2 Insect Frass Fertilizer is exactly what you need. “Frass” is insect manure and directly available to your plants, making it a natural and super effective form of compost. You can use it in both soil and potting soil, as a foliar spray, and in compost tea, as well as on plants in all stages of growth. This is like a one-stop shopping for plant fertilizer, so if you’re not into having a million different products on hand, this is the one you want. Love making compost tea? Frass works wonders.
6. Monitor Your Garden Daily
Here’s another tip that doesn’t get shared frequently enough. The best gardeners with the most beautiful and productive gardens take a walk around their garden every single day and notice anything out of ordinary, including:
- Plants to deadhead
- Any insects or insect damage
- Fruits and veggies to harvest
- Plants that need water
- Tall plants to stake
- And so forth
The sooner you catch something that needs to be done, the better off your plants will be. And, who doesn’t love taking a garden walk each day?