Let me interrupt your regularly scheduled summer holiday plans with a tiny little bit of work and a little bit of fun too! I am looking forward to catching some of the excitement and sports in the BC Summer Games this summer and also doing some summer entertaining and travelling around too. Part of my summer entertaining is going to involve my garden…not that it’s perfectly coiffed and lush, it is most certainly not.
I have a household of lunatic teens and galumphing dogs and one day I will have a spectacular garden, but not just right now. I have no problem with that, it will come in time. In the garden, I have wisely planted raspberries, blueberries, blackberries as well as apples and plums, not to mention a number of edible flowers and herbs. After the spectacular seminar at last year’s Fall Festival called Garden’s To Glass I have been inspired to create a number of beverages featuring my harvest bounty.
The testing process is grueling but I am pleased with a number of the drinks such as Raspberry Mojito and a Spicy Basil and heirloom Tomato Caesar. I am still on the hunt for a blackberry and plum concoction as those begin to ripen in my garden…so much research…so little time ;)!
Here is your list for July 2014:
Monitor the watering and get it down to a science so you are not tethered to your garden. There are a number of awesomely useful AND pretty sprinklers now in a large number of flavours to make your watering chores easier! There are also a number of lovely watering wands so you don’t shoot the soil out of your pots every time you water. The right tool for the right job will make your life easier and by the looks of some of those sprinklers a lot more fun!
When you water in the summer, water deeply. A quick little spray or mist will do nothing more than tease the plant. Each plant or pot should get several seconds (at minimum) of full strength hose pressure per hot day (without pretending to be a human pressure washer and blowing the soil away!). When hand watering at the nursery we like to use a 6-10 second count per plant. A quick little test is to lift the plant (if its in a container) and evaluate the weight. Dry pots will abnormally light.
Move potted plants around at this time to more shade if needed, just because you placed them there in the spring doesn’t mean they have to stay there all summer and fall. Move and turn your pots as needed! If you are really desperate and can’t find a house sitter consider a final deep watering and then placing straw approximately 4-6 inches thick on garden beds or veggie areas.
Keep in mind you will get a few weeds from the hay but in my opinion it is better than losing prized plants if you have to go away and have no watering person. For pots or hanging baskets take down and group. Place on shallow trays filled with water or the handy old Mr. Turtle Pool (yes, I still have it)!
You know the drill, only a tuna can of water per week. Check your local days and times for watering. Don’t panic if your lawn goes dormant (beige) in the summer… it will bounce back come fall providing you don’t also have massive amounts of traffic on it like a soccer pitch. Nicely done Germany by the way! Do not mow during scorching hot times of the day. Leave the clippings on the lawn (if you’ve kept up with the mowing) and let your lawn grow a little longer at this time.
Continue to monitor water levels and check for algae blooms. Remember you need 75 percent coverage with floating lily leaves, Water Hyacinth, Water Lettuce or other oxygenators like frog bit if you can keep your fish from eating it all.
You will have another small window of opportunity to do some light summer pruning of things like Birch, Japanese and other Maples and especially, Fruit Trees at the end of this month. You would prune much less at this time, no more than a quarter of the green and generally no thicker than your thumb.
Pruning at this time slows down the growth of your tree so is especially good for rampantly growing weeping Japanese Maples (mine looks like cousin 'Itt' from Adams Family), Plums and Apples. I also do a light prune on my Wisteria and Grape at this time. Follow international society of Arboriculture Guidelines or come out and see us for our summer pruning workshop.
If you grow your own, you are probably busy harvesting right now. The more you harvest, the more your raspberries, blackberries and many other fruits will continue to produce. Consistent harvesting also prevents mould and attracting the wrong kind of critters. You can also monitor for pests, disease and poor branching structure. It is very important especially with apples, blueberries, cherries and currants, to remove any fallen fruit to interrupt the lifecycles of apple, currant, cherry and blueberry maggots. Prevention, cleanliness and monitoring are far more effective than any other method for avoiding pests.
Take lots of pictures and note any areas you want to tweak in your garden in preparation of the fall planting season. Outline best seating areas with an extension cord and some upside down spray paint. Pinterest and Houzz are a lot of fun if you are looking for decking or patio ideas.
Just because we get asked this all the time, Summer IS a great time to plant a new plant, or even an entire garden. Plants are growing rampantly at this time and there is only one reason not to plant something. That reason is watering. If you are at home this year, or planning a 'staycation', plant away. If you are going away for an extended vacation, then either delay planting until you get back or make arrangements for someone to come in and water. Remember that technology exists to water without you. A $20 dollar soaker hose and digital timer or a drip irrigation system (which we now sell!) will make your garden much more enjoyable!
That should do for now, kick back and enjoy the vitamin D, find a good lake and tuck in to your summer reading list. If you have a good beverage recipe involving yellow plums and blackberries please send it. Off to do some more beverage research…cheers!