Wed, 28 Dec 2016
Ensure your garden thrives throughout summer with watering, feeding, mulching and plucking!
Simple but persistent maintenance will mean your garden rewards you tenfold with gorgeous and super healthy food all summer long. Watering is the number one task. Using a soil wetter will help your plants make the most of water, and can reduce water use by up to 50%. Water in the morning before the day gets too hot. A good deep soak every few days is better than shallow watering every day, this will encourage deep roots and helps plants to better survive short-term drought.
Just like a growing teenager, your plants need nutrients to replace the energy used for growing tall. Feed, feed, feed every four or so weeks during key growing times to make them thrive. Some heavy fruiting plants such as tomatoes and citrus require feeding more often, see below.
Keep the garden weed free, don't let your plants compete for water and nutrients. A good layer of mulch will conserve moisture, protect plants from heat, and suppress weeds.
Harvesting your produce actually helps to promote growth throughout the season, so get picking as soon as you see fruit and vegetables ripening, don’t leave them to tempt the birds and bugs. Children will love helping with this job!
Check for pests and disease and treat accordingly. Have a wander through the garden at dusk, and pick off the pesky snails that appear for an evening feed. Alternatively, use a scattering of slug and snail pellets.
Prune, trim and remove old leaves on a clear, dry day. Removing old and dead growth means the plant won’t waste energy trying to revive itself. It also creates clear space for airflow meaning less chance of disease festering.
The same applies to maintaining your flowering plants; dead head, weed, water thoroughly and feed. A good quality fertiliser will help to extend the flowering period.
Strawberries do well with some straw around the base to keep moisture in and keep the fruit off the soil. Bird netting can be worth the fuss, to keep the birds from your luscious berries.
Keep mounding soil around your potato plants until they are approximately 300mm tall. This will encourage a bigger harvest and protect the crop from the sun and wind.
Pick laterals from your tomato plants to encourage bigger and better fruit. Sometimes it’s confusing to know which are the laterals - they are the ones that grow above the branch, between the branch and the stem of the plant. Stake the plants well, they will need it as they grow heavy with all of those juicy fruit! Tomatoes can benefit from weekly feeding with a reputable tomato fertiliser, and it’s important to keep them well watered to ensure great results.
Citrus will benefit from some summer lovin’ to prevent developing fruit from dropping. Scatter blood and bone around the root zone, tickle into the area and then cover with 3-5cm of organic mulch. Feed each week with a good citrus food and watch those beautiful baby fruits develop into fat, zesty produce.
To keep your lawn looking its best, give it a thorough watering once or twice a week. This moistens the soil down into the root zone and encourages lawn roots to grow deeper. It’s not a great idea to mow your lawn too low before going on holiday. This can scalp the lawn and create bare patches, which are unattractive and will invite weeds. During summer it is better to mow little and often, removing no more than a third of the foliage each time.
Summer is an ideal time to plant capsicums, courgettes, cucumbers, eggplant, kumara, pumpkins and gorgeous herbs like basil, chives, parsley and thyme.
We hope you enjoy your garden over summer and reap a bumper crop!