There’s nothing like the flavor of fresh, homegrown vegetables and fruits from a summer garden.
Preparation for those delicious homegrown goodies should start in spring so by summer, the garden will be self-sustaining and producing abundantly.
So how should you prepare the garden for summer? Preparing a garden for summer begins and ends with the soil. If the garden soil is healthy, the garden plants will be also.
The soil provides almost everything plants need, so you need to focus on making the soil as fertile and healthy as possible.
Start by adding compost to the garden plot. After working the soil, add 2-4 inches (5 – 10cm) of compost on top of soil, then lightly work it into soil with a turning fork.
You can also add well-rotted animal manure at this time too. The compost will improve the structure of the soil and enable it to drain better. The compost will also prevent soil compaction so plant roots can spread out easier and air can circulate better.
Compost also retains water so roots will have access to moisture. The organic matter promotes a bio-diverse sub-culture under the soil that also promotes healthy plant life.
By the time the garden plants are putting on blooms and getting ready to bear food, the summer heat will be bearing down on them.
The sun is needed for plants and produce development, but it also places the plants under a lot of stress.
Reduce the stress on the plant by keeping the soil cool with a layer of organic mulch.
Place a 2-4 inch (5 – 10cm) layer of hay, wood chips, shredded newspaper or some other organic material on the soil around the plants.
Mulch will not only keep soil cool but help soil retain moisture and prevent weed growth.
Rough mulch, like wood chips or nut hulls, will also prevent certain pests, like snails and slugs, from attacking garden plants.
As the mulch decomposes, it will nourish the soil.
The summer sun causes moisture to evaporate quickly, so garden plants will need to have a lot of water added to keep them growing strong.
Water plants anytime the top of soil is dry. Container grown plants may need to be watered twice a day in mid-summer.
The organic compost in the soil will feed plants for the first few weeks, but they will need another meal to get them through the hot summer.
Create compost tea to feed and water plants as soon as they set buds.
Place two cups of compost in a cloth and tie loose ends of cloth together to form a ‘tea bag’.
Place the compost tea bag in a 5 gallon (19L) buck of water and let set for 24 hours.
Use this nutrient-rich compost tea to water and feed plants as needed until produce is ready to harvest from your summer garden.