Summer is upon the world and its gardens, making now the time to prepare and take action. Summer, like every season, brings its own set of traditions, challenges, and obligations. The sooner we take action on these things, the sooner we can get to enjoying the warm weather, blue skies, and time with family.
Number 1. Seasonal Insect Patrol
The first thing you’ll want to watch out for is the seasonal insect patrol. While you want to be vigilant, keep in mind that not all insects are “pests,” meaning you don’t want to go and get rid of everything you see. Instead, hand pick those aphids, white flies, squash bugs, and potato beetles, dropping them into soapy water. This avoids spraying any intense chemicals that might end up in or on you.
Another option is to release other insects (like the ladybug) on to your garden for some all natural pest control. Try to find some pest specific counter measures – some horticultural oils, if safe – so you keep as many good insects as possible. These insects (like the bumblebee, lady beetle, or solider bugs) pollinate, manage other insect populations, and help replenish the nutrients in the soil.
Number 2. Reconsider Watering Time
With summer comes increased heat, which mean increased evaporation time and humidity. It also means that molds and fungus have a better chance of growing in damp environments. That being so, you may want to consider retiming your water. Rather than watering at night, make sure the plants are dry (or mostly dry). Morning watering may be a better option here, but consider the shading of your plants, how warm it becomes in your climate, and what kind of fungus or molds are especially prevalent in your area.
Number 3. Prune (and Mulch)!
Like any season, pruning may be required. Trim the flowering shrubs and trees if they need it, cut back any dead wood, and clean up spent leaves. Pruning back rose bushes after the first bloom helps push the plant, for example. Now is also the time to prune late-spring flowering shrubs and hedges.
Likewise, now is a good time to remulch, continue efforts against weeds, and remove infected leaves. This helps control moisture (and molds/fungi), reduce weeds that compete with your plants, and control the temperature on the ground, making for a healthy growing environment.
As a note, avoid pruning oak and elm between min-April to mid-July because of diseases spread by sap-feeding insects.
Number 4. Plant some Seasonals
Finally, consider planting some seasonal flowers or vegetables. Find out what grows well in your area and carve out a new spot in your vegetable garden or line that fence with some great summer flowers. If summer is the season when you have more time on your hands, considering giving yourself a nice challenge of extra plants to tend to – it’ll be rewarding!