For your best garden ever, do these three simple tasks now and enjoy the summer months in your paradise even more:
#1 Mulch like a mad!
#2 Go deep—with the watering, that is!
#3 Bug off—grow these plants to keep unwanted insects away!
I grew my best garden the year I mulched my pepper and tomato plants early. Two to three inches of mulch—I used cypress—helped the soil stay moist and the plants to retain water. The deep mulch also made weeding a much easier chore as the weed seeds tried to take root in the mulch and came right out without much effort at all. The hardier weeds that did take root in the soil also came loose easily because the soil was damp.
We're talking about the water needs for your best garden. Watering more (or deeper) less frequently is better than watering daily but for a shorter time (less deep). When only the top layers of soil are moist plant roots want to stay where the water is; shallow watering promotes shallow roots. The deeper the roots the stronger the plant.
Don't be fooled by the appearance of the topsoil. Simply dig your finger a bit down into the soil to test how dry it is. If it's still damp, wait another day to water and check again.
To me, my best garden does more than produce gorgeous blooms or delicious food, it also repels unwanted insects. Here are a few plants to grow to help keep pests away.
• Basil repels house flies and mosquitoes, so a few plants in containers on your balcony or patio will help keep away the pest.
• Lavender repels moths, fleas, flies and mosquitoes. Grow lavender in full sun near doorways or your outside sitting areas.
• Lemongrass repels mosquitoes. It grows best in containers above Zone 8 or as an annual among bedding plants in those same zones.
More Tips for Your Best Garden
There's always something to be done in the garden; and we love that! Here's a checklist of summer tasks to check off your list to keep your garden growing strong. And our friends over at Savvy Gardening have a mid-summer list of tasks you can tackle here.
Patty Craft is content director for Horticulture. She gardens in southwest Ohio on her condo balcony and in a community garden plot.