Summer Garden Care

Summer Garden Care
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Summer is a time of excitement in the garden as we wait for flowers to bloom, vegetables to ripen and herbs to ready for harvest. You can keep tabs on your garden, herb and flower beds by doing a little at a time rather than saving up garden chores until they become an all day affair.

Deadheading: Make it a habit to deadhead your flowers, especially those in containers as you go back and forth from the mailbox or to and from your car each day. If this isn't enough, take a quick walk once a day as well. Plants that will need attention the most are annuals such as petunias, calendulas, pansies, violas, snapdragons and geraniums. Carry a shopping bag with you as you make the rounds, then later dump the dead blooms in the compost pile.

Weeding: This time of year the weeds can become unruly and out of control. Make an effort to pull a few weeds every time you step outside. Pick up a very inexpensive spade or other weeding tool and keep one by the front and back door in a plastic ice cream bucket, which can hold the weeds you pull. Plastic tools are great because they are inexpensive and you can leave them outside without worrying about rust. Save your good tools for those really tough chores. Lately, I've done extra weeding after the rains because they are so much easier to pull when the ground isn't dry. I've never liked black plastic for keeping weeds under control, and I don't use chemicals, but mulch does help keep the weeds down. To really be effective the mulch needs to be 3-4 inches thick, but this will help keep the weeds down and help keep the plants from drying out.

Watering: Pay attention to your weather forecast, and only water when it's necessary. Remember if you have flower beds up against your house or another building they may not be benefitting from light or even medium rain showers. You may need to lay down an inexpensive soaker hose to water plants that are blocked from the rain by overhangs. If you aren't sure about an area, pick up an inexpensive rain gauge at the dollar store and test if for a couple of weeks. Container plants can need watering twice a day, especially when it's hot and windy. If you are going away for a week or more, ask someone to check on your outdoor plants and set up the hose near where you want things watered to make it easier for them. It's better to water plants in the morning, rather than the middle of the day when the sun is at it's highest. Water deeply, and less often, rather than a quick watering.

Don't forget to involve your kids or grand-kids in garden chores. Little kids love to water with small plastic watering cans, which are perfect for containers. They can also help weed IF you can show them the difference between a weed and a plant. There are some weeds that are very shallow, and if you show them what they look like and supervise the first few times they will be fine. Make it a competition to see who can fill up their ice cream buckets first.

Lastly, pay attention to your herbs because once they start growing it's very easy for them to get out of control. Oregano, chives, sage, mint and lemon balm are fast growers. If you can't use them fast enough, you should still cut them by a quarter to halfway to keep them in control. You don't want to let the flowers go to seed on these herbs. They will spread rapidly by seed, and the mint will spread by roots as well. As long as you aren't hacking your plants down to the ground, you won't hurt them by cutting them back. Gather the herbs in bundles and hand them out to neighbors and co-workers if you have too many.

Garden chores can pile up very quickly if they are ignored for even a week or two. They become the thing the entire family dreads and complains about if saved for too long. Breaking the watering, deadheading, harvesting and weeding into daily jobs, and dividing them up between family members, can make the summer gardening season much more enjoyable.

About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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