Spring and summer are exciting and abundant seasons in the garden. Such a hive of activity. Plants are bursting with lush new growth; flowers are blooming, and there is a different kind of energy in the air. So many delicious fruits and vegetables will soon be ripening such as tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries and watermelons. Summer is bursting full of delicious, hydrating, vibrant food - natures way of providing us with refreshing and nutritious energy for the long summer days.
This period can also be a busy time for gardeners. With long, hot and often very dry stints over the warmer months, your garden will need a little extra care to stay full of life and thrive. Getting prepared ahead of time will make the flow into summer a whole lot more seamless and enjoyable.
Here are some of my top tips to keep your vegetable garden looking lush and providing you with nutrient-rich veggies throughout spring and summer:
Build healthy soil
It all starts with the soil! Having healthy soil is the key to happy and thriving gardens. Soil that is full of life and protected from the elements will make your job so much easier! Having lots of fibre in your soil will help it retain moisture, especially if you have quite sandy soils. Sandy soils will often let all the water run away between the particles before it has had the chance to be absorbed by the plants. Find out what kind of soil you have and research which amendments will be best to add to it. Lots of compost and composted manure is a great place to start when building your soil to be healthy and full of nutrients. Healthy soil that can retain moisture will mean you won't have to water as often.
Cover With Mulch
Leading on from soil, mulch is essential in a summer garden to protect the earth and retain moisture. Just like your skin, soil that is exposed to the harsh sun will dry, crack and stop absorbing water as quickly. Adding a 7-10cm thick layer of mulch at the start of spring can also help suppress weeds. Weeds, just like your plants, will be in full swing come spring as the weather starts to warm up. Mulch will help prevent them by stopping the seeds from getting enough light to germinate. Mulch will also begin to break down and add more nutrients to your soil. Slowly feeding your plants throughout the season. Reapply mulch at the change of each season if needed or at the beginning of spring and autumn. The layers of mulch breaking down will help add much-needed natural fibre to your soil to aid in moisture retention.
Watering your plants regularly throughout spring and summer is key to helping them survive the warmer months. There are a few ways that you can get water to your plants more efficiently, saving you time and wasting less water. Water your garden early in the morning or late in the evening to give the soil time to absorb the water before it can evaporate. If you have good soil and mulch, the rate of evaporation will be considerably slower. Therefore, watering will be a lot more efficient and successful.
It is a great idea to ensure you have a hose close to your garden. This will mean you will have time to quickly give your plants water before you rush out the door to work in the morning. If you have close and convenient access with a Hoselink Retractable Hose Reel, you’ll be able to give your garden that little bit of extra love and attention with ease. It can make a world of difference on those extra hot days!
There are many different methods of watering that can suit multiple areas of your garden. I like to give my kitchen and container gardens a good soak with the shower setting on my Hoselink Premium 7-Function Spray Gun. They don’t mind their leaves getting wet, and it will give the whole container a good soaking.
For compact soils or plants that like deeper watering, such as fruit trees, I like to use the Hoselink Root Waterer & Soil Breaker. This can get below the layers of mulch and soil to give your trees direct access to water. To water effectively, it is crucial to slow down the flow of the water and allow it to spread. Another great way to slowly water fruit trees and gardens is by using a weeper hose. Weeper hoses allow water to slowly be absorbed by your plants, preventing the water from washing away or evaporating as quickly.
If you have significant open areas of the garden, then a sprinkler system may be the best option. This will cover a large surface area, and you can attach timers to utilise early mornings without the hassle of getting up and manually watering.
Not all ways of watering will be effective in every part of your garden. It is important to evaluate each space and come up with a solution to quickly and efficiently saturate the area. At the end of a scorching day, don't forget to give your plants another good water to help them bounce back overnight.
Feed Your Plants
Giving your plants a little extra nutrition during the warmer months will help them grow healthy and resilient. Vigorous plants will withstand harsh environments better than those that are lacking in health. Adding fresh compost or composted manure will go a long way to providing essential nutrients to your soil. Feed and nourish your plants with a quality seaweed solution like Hoselink’s Seaweed Tonic. I love using the Hoselink easy Fertiliser Spray Mixer bottle as it dilutes the ratios for you plus waters your plants at the same time.
Be generous with your spring and summer seeds and seedlings. Some may struggle, and if you have extra plants, it will ensure you’ll get a good crop. I like to stagger my seeds and seedling plantings every few weeks so that I have a continuous supply of fresh veggies to harvest. Planting seeds in the warmer months will also require special care and attention. They will most likely be in small pots and containers so they can rapidly dry out. Setting up a simple misting system on a timer can be a great way to get a healthy growth of thriving seedlings. Make sure they are kept out of direct sunlight and are in more of a diffused light location.
Gardening is all about having the confidence to get stuck in and give it a go. Every location has a unique climate, soil structure and its own environmental impacts. So, the more you learn about the unique qualities of your property, the more you will be able to respond and develop your garden into a thriving and abundant food system. Observe where your garden gets shade throughout the year and which garden beds bear the full force of the hot summer sun. Knowing this can help you work with nature to have a happy and healthy garden all year round.