Feeding the Late Summer Garden
By: Mike Darcy
Now that the spring season is over and we are already into August, I wonder “where did the summer go”? With so many things going on in the spring and early summer garden, now is certainly the time to relax a bit and enjoy the fruits of your labors. I am not suggesting you do nothing in your garden, as there is always some maintenance to do, but at this time of year the labor is not so intense. And if you follow a few late summer gardening tips you will be sure to enjoy those fruits well into the fall season. Feeding the late summer garden is a good start.
If you have rose bushes, between now and mid-September, it is a good time to give them a final application of rose fertilizer for the year. I particularly like to use an organic fertilizer that is slow release. A quality flower fertilizer is ideal and applying now will encourage flowering throughout the fall season. I like to cultivate the fertilizer lightly into the soil and then give the plants a thorough watering.
As I visit other gardens this season, I see more and more vegetable gardens being planted. Home vegetable gardens are cropping up in landscapes with limited space and not necessarily in what we think of as a traditional vegetable garden. Just within my immediate neighborhood there are two rather unique vegetable gardens. One is in the space that was previously a lawn and another is in a space that is directly along the road. We would probably not have seen either of these locations used for vegetables a few years ago.
Another example of a unique vegetable is one that appeared recently at a local garden center. A raised bed vegetable garden was created in a space that had formerly been part of the garden center walkway. It was made by using pavers for the sides and then filled with top soil and then amended with organic soil conditioner and organic fertilizers. This proved to be an ideal demonstration garden to show home gardeners how easy it is to make a raised bed and that one can be built over almost any type of surface, even a driveway.
For those with limited space, or perhaps limited sunlight, consider a community garden. I am amazed at the prolific community vegetable gardens that are scattered throughout the city. These community gardens have become so popular in Portland that there is almost always a waiting list for those wanting their own plot. I have a friend, ‘Joe’, that was able to get two plots at his local community garden and he has diverse plantings and reaps a prolific harvest. The other huge benefit of a community garden is that it becomes an opportunity to meet other gardeners from your neighborhood and helps as a community building tool. Most gardeners love sharing ideas and it is hard to think of anything better than growing vegetables side by side with someone of like interests. Not only can you share the harvest, but sharing ideas on what you grow and how can be a great way to pick up new ideas for your own plot and to meet a new gardener.
For vegetables that continue to produce into the fall, consider giving them a final application of an organic fertilizer formulated for vegetables. I always like to lightly work the soil, apply the fertilizer and then water.
Late summer can be a stressful time for many container plants and hanging baskets. With the container being a limiting factor with regard to a plants source for fertilizer plus the constant watering required, nutrients in a container garden can easily be depleted. This is a good time to add some all-purpose organic fertilizer as this can give plants a much needed boost.
While this is just August, it is time to be thinking about a fall vegetable garden. As summer crops fade, consider the space as potential for an entirely new crop to grow and harvest in the fall and winter. If the soil has been used for a summer vegetable garden, it would be wise to amend it by adding organic matter with a product such as Black Gold Garden Compost Blend. This same time would also be an ideal opportunity to add in some fertilizer. Then as you remove your summer vegetable plants, and the soil is prepped, you are ready to plant. As a general rule, it is best not to plant the same crop in the same location year after year. Mix things up and perhaps, where you had tomatoes, plant peas.
Always remember that gardens are meant to be enjoyed. In my own garden, while there are always many tasks that need to be done, I do like to take some time, especially in the morning, and casually walk through it. What a delight it is to see plants in the coolness of the morning, hear the birds chirping and letting my mind relax.
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