Happy June everyone! Hard to believe that half of 2021 has already passed, and the heat of the summer is upon us. Gardening in the southeast through the summer takes determination, and this is when the “work smart, NOT hard” motto really needs to be put into practice. This month I want to share some advice on how to manage your landscapes by creating enjoyable habits that will enhance your outdoor experience.
The time has finally arrived to collect the spring seed from flowers such as poppies, larkspur, bachelor buttons, along with leafy greens like arugula, kale, and mustard, and all my favorite grains including barely, oats, and wheat.
The trick to successful seed saving is to ensure your seed is FULLY RIPE when you harvest. That means your plants must dry out completely, and yes, get a little “ugly” before removing them. I promise the effort is worthwhile so you can harvest massive amount to create a dynamic display next season!
Timing Is Everything
Now is when I appreciate having a day of zoom webinars scheduled from the comfort of my air-conditioned office. In my early career I worked outside year-round, rain or shine, heat and cold. As a home gardener it is important to remind yourself that this is for pleasure, therefore one does not need to be tortured by being outside at the hottest time of the day: that is 3-6 PM in my yard.
Instead, I plan to do major tasks earlier in the morning or after 7 PM when the heat and humidity are a bit lower. My productivity and enjoyment are significantly higher compared to days when I try to work out in the sun all day. You may notice the low light in all my YouTube videos, as I typically start filming in the early evening now.
About timing - it's still a great time to pot up your containers. Here's a recent evening video about growing blueberries in containers.
Beat The Bugs
As a person who lives with a serious tick-borne illness, I never go outside without bug spray on my clothing. That is correct, the most effective way to use common human-safe pesticides is to apply it to the material you are wearing instead of directly on your skin. This is especially important for sprays containing DEET.
I also recommend adding fans to your outdoor living spaces. It is remarkable how a simple plastic, oscillating fan can eliminating annoying mosquitoes and flies. Speaking of which, do you have mosquito larvae breeding in pot saucers and other areas that hold water? Me too… until now! I have started adding Mosquito Bits, which are a highly selective microbial insecticide (BTI) effective against mosquitoes in a variety of habitats. Simply spread over the surface of water to release the biological mosquito larvicide. I discuss this at the 24-minute mark in this video.
In contrast to winter, gardeners in the Southeast face dry periods in the summer. Thunderstorms are unpredictable and unreliable, so having a watering plan that is easy to run is important. As I have mentioned in past blogs, I do not have an irrigation system in my large garden. Instead, we drag hoses and run sprinklers to compensate during dry times.
This has led me to be very conscientious about plant placement in my garden. I follow the 3 foodscaping zones that I outline in The Foodscape Revolution to ensure that plants with high water needs are located conveniently. This is especially important for container gardens.
As I prepare for the annual Tomato Tasting fundraiser, I am looking for the easiest way to grow high maintenance heirloom tomatoes to maximize their harvest and minimize my effort. Planting directly into the Soil3 mini cube is the solution!
You will find these lining my fence and providing delicious fruit all season long. Even more exciting is that these are now available for delivery in the continental United States! Buy Soil³ OMRI Listed Compost.
Save The Date
The Tomato Tasting will be held on Saturday August 7, 2021 from 6-10 PM in my home garden!
Stay Hydrated, Wear Sunscreen, and Enjoy
Remember, my 2021 resolution was to slow down and appreciate the simple moments in the garden instead of focusing on all that still needs to be done. This is not an easy habit for me to establish considering my obsession with checking off my endless to-do lists. Somedays I have to remind myself ten times to drink more water and re-apply sunscreen, because one drink and one application is not sufficient!
I hope these tips will help make your summer growing experience better than ever! Until next month, happy gardening y’all!
Did this help you out? Have any questions for clarity? Leave a comment below!