We are always super excited to start gardening in the Spring but as the Summer days
approach 100 degrees with high humidity the garden can tend to be neglected a bit. Here are a few helpful tips and reminders to keep your garden thriving during the peak of the gardening season and beyond.
- Beat the heat. First and foremost it is best to get out to the garden early in the morning to save yourself from the heat. Plus this is the best time to pick any delicate greens.
- Pick often. It is amazing how quickly cucumbers, squash and green beans can grow! It is best to pick these daily or at least every other day to keep the plants producing optimally and to avoid the monster cucumbers and zucchini. I typically harvest salad greens weekly and by the next week there is plenty to harvest again from the same plants. I typically check tomatoes every 3rd day or so and pick any that are perfectly ripe or nearly there.
- Keep the garden watered. Especially during times of excessive heat and little rain, it is important to keep the garden adequately watered. Constant fluctuations of extremely dry and then extremely wet soil cause all sorts of problems with vegetables and fruits including splitting of tomatoes and blossom end rot. Long and deep watering using soaker hoses or drip irrigation is best and should be done 2 to 3 times a week.
- Pull the spring crops. When the spring lettuces and greens are starting to bolt and flower it is time to pull the plants. The greens become increasingly bitter and practically unpalatable once the plants are set to flower so it’s best to pull these plants to make room for replanting or for the summer crops that are stretching out for more space.
- Prioritize tasks after vacation. I know when I come home after a week on vacation the small garden feels like an overgrown forest! I thought the plants required my daily assistance…apparently not. Instead of feeling overwhelmed I have found it best to start with what is most important…harvesting of course! Watering can wait a little. Pruning can wait. Weeding can definitely wait. I always go for the tomatoes first because I like to snack on the cherry tomatoes as I am picking!
- Harvesting, storing, and preserving basil. Nearly everyone has a basil plant or two. Here are some tips to keep you happy and your plants thriving. Pick entire stems or branches and not simply the leaves. Pick off flowers promptly. Large stems can be kept fresh inside in a glass or jar of water. Basil can store for a few days in the fridge but the leaves must be very dry otherwise black spots will form. Basil is easily preserved by freezing. Once stems or branches are harvested, pick off the individual leaves and roll up bunches tightly in plastic wrap and place in the freezer. This way, you can enjoy pesto anytime of the year!
- Planning and planting for a fall harvest. Fall greens are delightful along with the still thriving cucumbers and tomatoes. August is a great time to start planting out salad greens, spinach, radishes, beets, carrots and turnips again just like you did in the spring. This time around though everything will germinate and grow much faster because of the warmer temperatures and you’ll be enjoying these crops will into and through our first couple of fall frosts.
Hopefully you find these tips useful and you can keep your gardening thriving through the rest of the season.