Happy Friday Grow Appalachians! Things here at HQ are taking off at the speed of light, and with many new plans and changes on the horizon, it’s sure to be another busy summer! Speaking of summer…
Believe it or not, folks, we are just about six weeks away from the first day of summer (June 21st). And you thought you’d just gotten used to spring!
It seems unfathomable at the moment, but while you’re neck-deep in the throes of market season, planting, harvesting, workshopping, and other -ings, it’s not a bad idea to start thinking about summer gardening. Here are 10 tips listed below to help get the planning process started:
- Mulch! Mulching helps with water retention, and also adds a protective layer to plant roots so they don’t scorch in the summer heat. It also maintains a cooler soil temperature so, again, your plants don’t scorch. Straw and leaves work well for this.
- Avoid watering on leaves of plants- many plant diseases are most prevalent in warmer temperatures. Summers here in Kentucky tend to be warm and humid, which would make for ideal breeding grounds. Drip irrigation allows for water to directly access the roots of plants.
- Cover growing or transplanted plants with lightweight covering as the temperatures rise. Be sure to make a little “tent” over the plant so heat doesn’t stay retained within the plant.
- Stay on top of harvesting! The more harvesting plants are harvested, the more they’ll produce. A lot of veggies you planted in the spring are going to start reaching full maturity in early summer. Also, some crops, such as broccoli, can bolt (go to seed) if left in the heat too long. Flavor can also become compromised with bolting plants. Be prepared to set aside some harvest time each day you go outside to work in the garden.
- If you’re wanting to plant but are worried about your soil being too warm (Many crops tend to poop out if the soil is too warm), check your soil temperature. You can find an inexpensive soil thermometer online, or a simple meat thermometer will do. To cool the soil, simply moisten it a day or so before planting, sow your seeds, and then cover the seedlings with cardboard or some sort of shade cloth.
- Give your plants some extra love by applying fertilizer (side-dressing) as your plants grow. In case you missed it, you can buy organic fertilizer from us 🙂 Ask me (or us) how!
- Work on building up your compost pile. Summer temperatures are awesome in getting all the organic matter and food waste at a high enough temperature. It’ll be looking like beautiful soil in no time! Just make sure that it doesn’t get too dry!
- Brush up on your trellising skills! You definitely want to make sure those cukes, tomatoes, and squash have room to streeeetch! In case you don’t already know, our own Mr. Cooke is a big fan of the Florida weave for trellising tomatoes!
- If weeds have become especially problematic in the spring, solarize a part of your garden. Lay down black plastic over the weeds and allow the heat of the sun to scorch the weeds until they die. Supposedly you can also use this method if you’re growing in high tunnels. Any HT growers out there want to chime in?
- Last, but certainly not least: Make sure you take care of yourself too! UV rays are strongest between the hours of 10 am to 3-4 pm, so limit your garden work to early morning or evening if you can. Cover up with sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat. And if you must work outside for most of the day, take frequent breaks indoors and stay hydrated!
All right, who’s ready for summer? Bring on the tomatoes! 🙂 Have a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend everyone!
Getting ready for the summer “bake” (Great title, huh?) 🙂
Summertime Gardening- Grow Appalachia HQ blog