Saturday, June 23, 2018

It is not too late to start a garden in June!

June garden
Saturday, June 23, 2018

You can start a garden at any time in spring, summer or fall.  If you are deciding to start your garden in the summer, there are a few techniques to use to figure out what to plant and help your plants survive and flourish. 

Step 1-I think the best way is to make a list of what you like to eat, then see which of your favorites are best to start right now in your garden!  This is the time of year of the heat lovers like eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers.  There is no time like the present to get moving on your gardening dreams.
Planning for a four season garden  Time to plant summer veggies!  Start a kitchen herb garden!  
Summer garden veggies
Step 2-Now that you have your list, take a look at your garden, patio, deck, porch, front yard to see how much space you have that gets 6 hours of sun a day.  There are so many dwarf varieties of every kind of vegetable to grow in pots or small spaces that you should not be put off thinking you don’t have enough space!
Get the most from your space-plant intensively!  
How to decide what to plant for small spaces? 
Companion planting tips    Edible shade gardens shine in summer

Step 3-Buy your supplies for your garden bed or pot.  Pots are easy-just buy some organic potting soil and the decorative pot.  Most potting soils come with fertilizer already mixed in.   You do not want to use garden soil as it is too dense for pots.  Make sure you buy the right size pot for the vegetable you are growing.
Make your own all natural, complete fertilizer  Re-energize your potting soil!
Decorative container gardening for edibles  Weed free, self fertilizing, till free garden beds  

Step 4-Buy your plants.  I prefer to buy plants that are raised without chemicals so I look for an organic nursery to see if they have what I want.  The brand carried at many big box stores started carrying organic this year.  My next stop is my local nursery or big box hardware store.  Choose the plants that are green and look sturdy.  If they already have blooms, be sure to remove them.  You want all the energy of your plants going into good roots initially.  The heat lovers like tomatoes, beans, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, and eggplant will also sprout from seed easily this time of year.  I have pepper and tomato seeds started in the deck in a pot right now.  They sprout in just a few days.  I transplanted the sprouts into larger pots to give them room to grow sturdy.  I'll transplant them into the garden when they are around 5" tall.
Newly started seeds
Step 5-Plant!  Water each plant well before planting.  The best time to plant is before a rain or cloudy days.  Gives the plants a little time to get their roots jump started.  I add plant starter and fertilizer to each hole, mix with the soil and then place the plant.  Water again after planting.

For potted veggie or herbs, fill the pot with organic potting soil, water to get the potting soil settled, plant the veggie, and water again.  You can top with mulch to keep lengthen the time between waterings.  I also plant flowers in my pots to add color and attract beneficial insects.
Decorative container gardening for edibles

If planting in your flower bed or garden, the best thing to do is a soil test (you can buy a kit or take it to your local co-op extension office).  If this just seems too much trouble, buy an organic balanced fertilizer and compost.  Pull back your existing mulch, apply a 2” thick layer of compost, top with the fertilizer (following the label’s directions), plant your new veggie or herb, readjust your mulch back around your plants, and water.
The next step in garden production and your nutrition-soil minerals

I like to put a handful of worm castings into each hole with the new plant along with a balanced organic fertilizer like Espoma.  Worm castings have lots of beneficial microbes in them that helps the plants absorb nutrients from the soil.

Newly planted pepper plant started from seed

Step 6-Monitor and water.  Keep an eye on your plants.  They may look sad the first week if it is really hot when they first go into the ground.  Consistent water is the key for success.  Like a lawn or flowers, the best time to water is in the mornings.  When you water your flowers, water your veggies and herbs.

One watch out on watering, many summer crops are susceptible to leaf fungus, like cucumbers, zucchini, squash, and tomatoes.  Be sure to water at the base of the plant and not the leaves.

Here are a couple of garden ideas:

If you have a picky eater, try the kid’s pizza garden.  If they grow it, they want to eat it!
Tomatoes-any you can’t eat, you can easily freeze for winter pizzas
Basil, oregano, chives, garlic for seasoning
Onions-you can grow Egyptian walking onions in a pot or ground and they are perennials to boot
Kale, arugula, and sprouting broccoli for a little green in your pizza toppings (easy to freeze for later)
Green peppers, eggplant, zucchini for summer pizzas (maybe some hot peppers for the adults)
For those that are real adventuresome, you can get mushroom kits to grow mushrooms.

Or if you want a culinary garden, here is an Italian/Sicilian garden that you can grow in as little as a 6’ x 6’ space:
Herbs (1 each)-thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, and flat leaf parsley
3 basil plants (for pesto and seasoning)
2 tomatoes-1 Roma type for sauces and 1 slicer type for salads
2 sweet pepper plants
1 zucchini
1 eggplant
8 red onions (you can substitute Egyptian walking onions for a summer garden)
8 garlic plants (planted in the fall for summer harvest)
Arugula, spinach and lettuce scatter sown

It is great fun, a time saver, and nutritious to grow your own food in your yard!

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