Our summer garden can face a lot of challenges—pests, intense heat, drought, violent storms. Here are five tips from expert gardener Niki Jabbour to help save your garden from a slow death.
5 Summer Garden Tips for Better Growth
1 Attract. Midsummer is peak season in the garden for fruiting crops like tomatoes, cucumbers and squash. Boost their yields by drawing in more pollinators with high-nectar annuals like sweet alyssum, zinnias and sunflowers.
2 Monitor. Nip pest and disease problems in the bud by keeping a close eye on your garden. Watch for early signs of trouble like holes in foliage or wilting and yellowing leaves. If you spot pests, don’t overreact. Instead, identify the problem and the potential damage. I often leave small colonies of aphids in my garden because they attract ladybugs, which reduce overall pest populations.
3 Feed. Give fruiting and long-season vegetables a midsummer boost with a dose of fish emulsion or liquid kelp. Liquid kelp, in particular, is rich in micronutrients. I use it monthly as a foliar spray to keep tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash and pole beans healthy and productive.
4 Cover. It’s no secret that birds love berries as much as we do, so protect your harvest with simple bird netting. Netting comes in various pre-cut sizes, as well as large rolls. Lay it directly over high bush blueberries, red and black currants, trellised raspberries and other fruit plants. Make sure to secure it against the trunks of the plants to stop birds from sneaking under the net.
5 Stake. Sometimes the lazy days of summer make me feel a little lazy too, but it’s important not to neglect climbing crops, like indeterminate tomatoes, that need to be secured to supports as they grow. Use garden twine or strips of pantyhose to tie shoots to their stakes and trellises.
Niki Jabbour grows edible plants all year near Halifax, Nova Scotia. She's the author of The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener and Groundbreaking Food Gardens, and Horticulture's resident veggie-growing expert.
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