You’ve waited all winter to get out in the garden, prepping all those seeds and planting in spring. Now it’s summer and there’s much to do. Hopefully, if all goes well, there won’t be any major hiccups to deal with but, alas, this isn’t always the case. When it comes to caring for your vegetable garden in the heat of summer, anything can happen and often does. That said, it helps to be prepared, so here are some tips to keep the garden looking its best.
While there are many different types of vegetables, all must be watered, especially in the summertime. Plants can suffer from heat stress just like we do and will show us with wilting foliage and an overall droopy appearance. You may even notice drying, brown leaves if they’ve gone too long without a drink. In general, veggie gardens require, at a minimum, of around an inch (2.5 cm.) of water each week – two inches (5 cm.) is even better. Usually, a good soaking once weekly will suffice, but if it’s really hot and dry, more may be needed.
When you water the garden, do so in the morning BEFORE the heat of the day takes hold. This makes it easier for the soil to absorb the water so the roots can get what they need without anything lost to evaporation. Also, opt for drip irrigation or soaker hoses whenever possible to help keep the foliage dry so as to avoid future fungal problems, like powdery mildew.
Consider your soil too. For example, sandy soil holds less water than heavier clay soil and will dry out quicker. This is why amending the soil with compost at planting time is so important. Not only does it take care of issues with drainage and water retention, compost will help nourish the soil so feeding continuously shouldn’t be necessary. You’ll also want to keep weeds to a minimum, so mulching the garden will help with this as well as retaining that much needed moisture.
Try as you may, bugs happen! I normally plant various herbs and flowers in my vegetable bed to both attract beneficial insects and deter pesky ones. Yet, on occasion these nasty buggers still manage to make an appearance. Some of the most common of these invaders include:
- Spider mites
- Squash bugs
Keeping these pests out of the vegetable garden tends to be an ongoing process, but you can make this job much easier with NATRIAÂ® products from Bayer Advanced. My two favorites are NATRIAÂ® Neem Oil and NATRIAÂ® Insecticidal Soap. Both are perfectly safe to use on edible plants like vegetables (and ornamentals too). Not only do these products safely tackle most of these pests, but Neem oil does double duty as an effective fungicide. Which, of course, brings up another point”¦gardens may be afflicted with any number of plant diseases in addition to insects. But there’s something for that as well – NATRIAÂ® Insect, Disease & Mite Control. This one is actually a 3-in-1 product, controlling fungal diseases, listed insect pests and mites.
The best time to apply any of these is early morning or late evening, especially when it’s hot outside. You’ll also want to make sure to cover the undersides of leaves thoroughly, which is where many insect pests and their eggs love to hide. For best results, follow label instructions. Finally, once harvesting season begins (and by the way, NATRIAÂ® products can be used up until this time), be sure to pick ripened crops frequently to encourage more production and help discourage hungry critters or rotting fruit.
If all goes well, and hopefully it will, you’ll reap a successful harvest while enjoying a beautiful summer vegetable garden.