Summer is always a fun and busy time of year. And to keep your garden productive, there are things to do for a sustainable vegetable garden in summer.
To have a successful sustainable vegetable garden, you must answer four questions before planting it: Where are you going to plant it? How will you feed it? How will you water it? And how will you control pests?
Once those initial questions have been answered and the garden is planted, there will be certain things that need to be done each season to keep a sustainable gardening thriving. Let’s look at some of the summer tasks that will keep your garden growing.
Apply a 2-4 inch (5 – 10 cm) layer of organic mulch at the beginning of summer. The mulch may need to be refreshed by mid-summer with a scattering of new mulch on top of the old layer.
Mulch helps the soil retain water and prevents weed growth. As the mulch slowly decomposes over the summer it will leach into the soil to increase nutrients. The decomposed mulch also helps prevent soil compaction and promotes good drainage.
Summer is the time when garden pests are their busiest and you must stay one step ahead of them to protect your garden.
Walk through your garden daily and look for any signs of pests. Dark spots or holes in the leaves, bite marks on the vegetables or fruits, or clusters of tiny eggs are signs of pest infestation in your garden.
When possible, hand-pick the pests off the plants and destroy them so they can’t multiply in the garden. Pests will lay eggs and overwinter in the garden so they can reappear in increased numbers next year.
The plants need plenty of water during the heat of summer and it needs to be done efficiently to conserve water.
Install rain barrels to collect the rainwater that runs off the roof. Water the garden plants with this free rainwater that contains no chlorine or other chemicals like tap water does.
Water plants in the early morning before the sun hits them to reduce evaporation. Also, apply water at the soil level near the base of the plants. Avoid getting plant foliage wet to reduce the risk of disease.
Compost Garden Waste
When the spring crops have ended their lifecycle, add the plants to the compost pile (if they are disease and pest-free). Amend the soil with compost or well-rotted animal manure and re-plant late-season crops.
If you are not ready to re-plant in the summer, add a layer of mulch on top of the amended soil to prevent erosion and compaction.