Two Great Tips for Your Summer Garden
Enhancing the Beauty of Your Summer Garden
As any experienced gardener will tell you, there are a number of things you can and in some cases must do to achieve a summer garden you can be proud of. To get you started, here are two tips, the first dealing with one of the most basic aspects, the second suggesting something you may not have thought of.
Summer Garden Tip #1: How to Water
You know your plants need water, but you may be less sure of the best way to provide it. Here are some guidelines.
Your Summer Garden: How Much Water?
How much water your plants need depends on the weather. You can take it for granted that they need at a minimum one inch of water per week, but when it’s hot out, that might not be enough.
To check, dig down a few inches around a plant. Is the soil moist at least down to a depth of three to four inches? If not, the plant isn’t getting enough water.
Your Summer Garden: How Should You Water?
Let the soil dry out to a degree between waterings and then water deeply and thoroughly. Light surface watering is pretty much useless because the water never makes it down to the roots of the plant. The water just evaporates. In contrast, deep watering reaches the roots and actually encourages them to grow deeper, thus producing the added benefit that the plant is more firmly anchored.
When it comes to vegetable gardens, a soaker hose or drip irrigation system works better than watering from above because the former ensure that water gets to the roots of the plants.
Your Summer Garden: When Should You Water?
The ideal time to water is in the morning. It’s beneficial if leaves have time to dry off before the hot sun finds them. Watering in the evening is an acceptable alternative provided it’s hot enough to dry plants before the temperature drops overnight. When plants are damp overnight, they’re more vulnerable to fungus and disease.
Your Summer Garden Tip #2: Get Yourself Some Ladybugs
Ladybugs are welcome guests in a summer garden because they eat insect pests like, for example, aphids.
You can entice ladybugs in your summer garden by planting plants that attract them. They like umbrella-shaped flowers like dill, fennel, angelica, tansy, cilantro, Queen Anne’s lace, and yarrow because these are sources of the pollen they also eat. They’re also attracted to cosmos, scented geraniums, and coreopsis.
You can also simply buy ladybugs from a supplier and release them in your summer garden although it’s not generally worthwhile unless you have a serious pest problem. When making such a purchase, our native ladybug species (Hippodamia convergens) is likely to prove a more satisfactory choice than Asian ladybugs (Harmonia axyridis.) People who acquire Asian ladybugs have been to known to end up with ladybug infestations inside their houses.
If you do end up releasing ladybugs you purchased, here are four pointers to help ensure they will stick around in your summer garden instead of wandering elsewhere.
- First, if it’s warm outside, chill them in the fridge. That way, when you release them in the garden, they’re more likely to crawl than fly.
- Water your summer garden prior to releasing them. They’re likely to be thirsty when you let them go, and this will ensure they don’t have to go beyond the confines of the garden to drink. Water also helps them stick to plants.
- Put a floating row cover over an area to encourage the ladybugs to stay there.
- Release them after sundown or before dawn.
However, you acquire the ladybugs, take care of them once you’ve got them. Be aware that in their larval form, they don’t look like the red or orange insects with black markings that we’re all familiar with. They look like minute six-legged alligators, so if you happen across some, don’t kill them. You’d be killing your next generation of ladybugs before they grow to maturity.