5 Tips for an Enchanting Summer Garden
1. What to Plant Now
Early July is still enough time to plant beans and summer squash from seed. In the next two to three months plant cool-season vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, chard, lettuce, spinach, potatoes and onions.
In terms of flowers, look around your garden and notice what colors or fragrance you feel are missing. It is hard to resist buying plants in full bloom, but if you can wait until next spring and plant younger plants, they will hit the ground running and out-bloom and out-perform almost anything you plant now. It is fine, however, to add color to your garden pots and borders with smaller colorful annuals such as petunias and lobelia.
2. Fertilize and Water
This is the month to focus on keeping everything well fed and watered.
Feed by using organic fertilizers and top dress with good compost with micronutrients. Keep the ground covered. Soil builds from the top down, you are keeping the worms and micronutrients in the soil happy by covering it.
3. Slow Down Weeds Organically
Weeds grow fast during the hot months of summer and plants dry out quickly. To slow down your weeds, enrich the soil and keep it moist at the same time, apply a thick layer (2 to 3 inches) of compost and/or straw around the plants. Leave a small gap for air circulation around the stem or crown.
Tired of mowing and watering a greedy lawn? Make a “lasagna mulch” right on top without having to dig out the lawn. In 8 to 10 months the lawn, weeds, cardboard and mulch will be a rich healthy soil ready for planting. The steps are: 1) mow or cut down the weeds, but leave them in place and add more green mulch (grass clippings, green leaves and stems) until it is 2 to 3 inches thick; 2) Add cardboard sheets (avoid white cardboard as it has bleach) overlapping the edges by 6 inches. Wet down the cardboard thoroughly; 3) Cover the cardboard with arbor mulch (tree chippings).
4. Build an Outdoor Kitchen
A wonderful way to encourage friends and family to spend time in the garden is to build a little summer kitchen with a grill, a sink and counter space for preparation. Place your table and chairs in the garden, pretend you are French and eat all of your meals outside!
Pick the vegetables for a summer salad and stir-fry and take them directly from the garden to the pot. Eating fresh vegetables and herbs within 30 minutes of picking is an entirely different taste experience you will truly never forget.
5. Enjoy the fruits of your labor and go barefoot in your garden!
One of the most wonderful benefits of having a garden is that you get to spend time experiencing healing properties of connecting to the natural world. As we tune in to our garden, our bodies seem to come into balance with the natural rhythms of the earth. Your plants will begin to communicate with you and you will intuit what they need.