Sunday, 19 August 2012

Garden Chores in The Summer Heat

Wicked hot lately here on the island! Days are hot and nights are warm, sleep is restless and so ...

Most of what we all do now is water, water, and water... and then hide in the shade during the afternoon heat!

So, the weeds grow wild and take over, the empty beds lie unattended, and plants languish in the heat.

Nicotiana and Pumpkin blossoms in the cool of the morning
well, okay, if you can call 18 C a cool morning ;)


Changing up the format of the weekly chore log to let you not only know what I am planning and trying to get done ;)
but also throwing in more of a general to-do list, an idea on things you might want to tackle this week in your gardens.
Plus helpful hints and things to consider. 

In the Potager aka Kitchen Garden
- Ugh, much weeding to do! My potager pathways have run amok with weeds and with all this heat, have been totally neglected ... perhaps today is the day!
- Have planted up the winter bed with kale, carrots, and several varieties of lettuce and spinach, so now to try to keep them kind of watered so that they germinate and thrive. How grows your winter veggie bed?
- Am going to pinch out the tops of my tomatoes so that they start to ripen instead of continuing to grow and produce! also, removing some of the foliage as they are really lush, green, tall and wide ;)
- Water pumpkins weekly.
- Weed around the blueberries as those horrible tripwires (blackberry vines) are coming up through the cardboard and mulch!
- Cleaning out and emptying beds. This year I have been donating to the local Loaves and Fishes and also sharing with some of my neighbours who are just starting out. I know a lovely young couple, living off the grid just a few houses down from me, and I share whatever I can with them. They are super sweet, super young, have a super brand new little baby, and they remind me of what is was to be young and idealistic. Love people who dream big! So all my extras are going to peeps who need good home-grown veggeis! So exciting to be able to share what I grow!

Happiness Is....
- Finally, ripening tomatoes in the potager!!! The first ones ready are the Druzba's!
- The winter onions are up! So excited...  though they are certainly not photo worthy as they look like little green pieces of grass like stems poking out of the bed ;)

Oh boy, am embarrassed about the pic below...  if you ever doubted that all I do is garden, just have a look at those finger nails! Sigh, this year, I am going to celebrate the gardens being put to bed with a  manicure ... in October.. or maybe November...


Huge bi-colour tomato - Alleghany Sunset
I love the bi-colours!
They are so pretty!

Fruits and Veggies, In General

- harvesting potatoes, onions, cabbages, dill, oregano, herbs of all kinds, beans, corn, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries.
- keep harvesting cukes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and squashes (zucchini's) to keep them producing.
- If you have not yet planted for fall then now is the time to plant up carrots, lettuce, spinach, beets, radishes, Swiss chard, turnips, and transplants (pick them up at the garden centres) of broccoli raab and cauliflower.
- Prune out your already fruited summer canes of raspberries.



Flowers, In General
- keep cutting off lily heads as they finish blooming.
- prune back lavender to shape... just an inch or two, not into hardwood
- prune and deadhead roses
- cut back any perennials that have finished and are beginning to die back and brown off (going dormant).
- trim off any dead, damaged or diseased bits on your trees and shrubs.
- cut back or take off the flowers of any herbs, perennials, flowers, etc.. that you do not want to set seed... for me, it is to cute the spent blooms off of Shasta's and Feverfew.
- order tulips, daffs, crocus, hyacinths, etc.. for spring blooms.
- order seeds for annuals etc to plant wither this year or next spring, while companies have them on sale... am thinking of places like Renee's Garden Seeds, a fab company, that put on a fall sale each year, which helps you save money on seeds you know you want to grow and they want to start fresh in 2013 with new stock!
- Tear down your Sweet Peas, if they have burnt out in the heat, like mine have... throw them in the compost or chop them up into your beds. Just like the peas and beans, sweet peas also add nitrogen to the soil!



This Pink Promise rose is newly planted this year, yet even in this heat, this is what it looks like!
I  water them every two or three weeks, but soak them really well.
The rest of the time, they are setting in really deep roots.
Great soil, deep watering, and heavy mulching = great plants
Watering, General Notes...
Hey, so here are some of my tips for healthy watering and thriving perennials, trees, and shrubs
- For newly planted trees, shrubs or perennials, water once a week or so, very deeply! Then let them go completely dry for a bit before watering again. This causes the plant to send out deep roots, in search of water, so that it does get a shallow root system (sprinklers cause shallow root systems). Shallow rooted plants are unable to sustain themselves in times of drought or stress, and quite likely to die.
- If you have well established trees and shrubs, in the heat of our island summers, please give them a deep watering about once a month. This means, place the hose, at a really slow trickle, near the base of the tree and let it run for a minimum of 20 minutes per tree. Roses and smaller shrubs will likely be fine if you trickle for 5 to 10 minutes.
- For well established (meaning well rooted in) perennials, deep watering about once a month, thus ensuring that the entire flower bed is very well watered and roots are watered thoroughly. Heavily mulching the bed (leaving a circle around plants.. meaning, please! not right up next to the crowns, stems, or trunks) also helps to retain moisture in the beds for longer.

- Veggies require more consistent watering, simply due to the fact that they only live a few months and have to grow and produce in a short time period ... Carrots, cabbages, potatoes, onions are fine with a once a week watering... Most herbs tend to be Mediterranean and so are used to hot and dry, therefore, once a week or less, is fine. Basil requires more water. Tomatoes, cucumbers, and any veggies (or strawberries, when fruiting or flowering)  that hold a lot of water, need water every two or three days in order to produce good and juicy fruits.

- lawns, okay, you guys know that I am kind of anti-lawn... let them go dormant in summer... they will come back in fall when the rains return, so is okay to be brown and dormant. Less mowing for you while you have so much else to do!

- In general, when fruiting plants are in flower, whether fruit trees, berries or veggies, they require a bit more water, as that helps them produce better, bigger, and juicier 'fruits of your labour'! 

Morden Midget Eggplant - So cute, eh?
In the Greenhouse and Nursery
- Water potted up tomatoes/peppers/cukes daily... my great friend and neighbour Dave, filled up my cistern ( from his old un-used well) again and so I am free to water plants without worry, though I continue to be frugal!
- Fertilise with Gaia Green
- Pick some of those lovely Morden Midget Eggplants
- Pick veggies to keep them coming
- Water perennial garden this week as I now have the water to do so.
- The potted perennials look fab... please buy them ;)


The pumpkins are shping up just fine :)