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Keep your vegetable garden growing strong through the summer months by making these four essential tasks part of your routine:
1. Plant! Want to maximize production in your vegetable garden? Practice succession planting! This technique is the key to a non-stop harvest. Once early crops like peas, carrots and lettuce are harvested, I amend the soil with compost and re-plant with seeds or seedlings. My favorite crops to plant in July include bush beans, zucchini and cucumbers. Check “days to maturity” on the seed packets to make sure there is enough time left in your season for them to mature.
2. Weed & water! Chores like weeding and watering may not be much fun, but they are essential to plant health and productivity. When watering, aim to water the soil, not the plant, and water deeply. I also mulch the soil around my plants with two to three inches of straw. The straw holds soil moisture but also reduces weed growth.
3. De-bug! To reduce populations of pests like cucumber beetles, slugs, Colorado potato beetles, squash bugs and cabbage worms, I handpick them each morning, dropping the offenders into a container of soapy water. I also make sure to tuck flowers like sweet alyssum, calendula, dill and cosmos in my vegetable beds to encourage predatory insects.
4. Feast! July and August are high-production months in the garden and I’m picking crops like beans, peas, carrots, beets, cherry tomatoes, squash and baby potatoes daily. Our meals revolve around the garden. One of the benefits of growing your own is picking vegetables when they’ve reached peak flavor and tenderness. Keep an eye on your plants and harvest often.
Image credit: Markus Spiske/Unsplash
Niki Jabbour, who gardens year-round in Nova Scotia, is a Horticulture columnist. She also writes at SavvyGardening.com. She's the author of several books on vegetable gardening, including Gardening Under Cover and Niki Jabbour's Veggie Garden Remix.