Did you remember to start your garden this spring?
In our long, cold spring, it was easy to forget to plant the seeds that will blossom this summer. In fact, June is typically peak garden season and experienced gardeners are enjoying those spring efforts and watching their gardens thrive.
However, don’t worry if you didn’t get around to planting some seeds in the spring. There are plenty of methods to enjoy a prosperous home garden this summer.
For example, as you admire the native flowers starting to bloom and hear the buzzing bees, there is still time to plant some vegetable seeds that will provide some fresh produce in the summer.
Plan Your Home Garden
It all starts with a plan.
There are two main types of plants: perennials and annuals.
- Perennials live for more than two years and should be spaced about 18 inches apart, which provides sufficient room for new growth, along with making the garden look full.
- Annuals live for a year, from seed to blossom, and easily add color to gardens that would otherwise be full of dead space.
Part of the garden plan is a notebook, or place to capture your dream garden. It helps to plan what types of plants (flowers and/or edibles) and color scheme. The notebook can capture other plants you discover and act as a reminder to add them in future years.
The final part of the plan is a simple calendar (which helps remind you to plant those seeds in the spring) that provides reminders throughout the growing season. For example, many gardeners note things like:
- fertilizing schedule (every six-to-eight weeks throughout the growing season).
- pruning schedule (in the fall after the summer heat passes).
- additions to the garden (certain bulbs should be planted in the fall).
Basic Garden Tools
With a plan in hand, then you’ll need to proper tools to actually tend to the garden. After all, the proper tools makes garden chores more pleasant. However, keep in mind that you don’t need to stock your toolshed on day 1, the basics should keep your garden running smoothly.
- Gardening gloves – find a pair that feels comfortable and protects against thorns.
- Shovel – essential for preparing sizable garden beds and for digging holes for trees, shrubs and large plants.
- Trowel and weeding tool – small tools to dig holes and pull weeds out at the root.
- Long garden hose and spray nozzle – select a hose long enough to comfortably reach each of the main areas of your garden.
- Hand pruner – sharp clippers used to trim branches and cut back woody plants.
- Metal rake – effective way to spread mulch and prepare beds for planting.
- Leaf rake – the flexible plastic or bamboo helps gather leaves.
Basic Garden Tips
The experienced gardener learns some tricks of the trade over years of practice and patience. However, if you are looking to jumpstart your garden and start growing this summer, then there are some helpful tips!
- Line the back of your car with a plastic tarp and a small step ladder. Place fragile plants between rungs to protect them during the ride home.
- Add some food coloring to the rain gage to easily read the gage.
- Lighten heavy pots by filling the pot one-third to one-half full with packing peanuts. Be sure to place a piece of landscape fabric on top of the packing peanuts and then layer on your potting soil.
- Prevent aggressive plants from taking over your garden by planting them in a plastic container (with the bottom cut off) because the roots can grow directly down into the soil.
- Protect bulbs over the winter by adding netting over the bed of flowers. Simply remove the netting or cut holes in the cloth and let the plants grow through during the spring.
- Upgrade your wheelbarrow by fitting a piece of plywood to the back end with wood cleats to create a flat surface that is perfect for potting.
- Water potted patio plants with the leftover water from boiled or steamed vegetables.
- Add leftover tea or coffee ground to acidify the soil of acid-loving plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, gardenias and even blueberries.
- Deadheading (removing spent and faded flowers) encourages plants to place energies into stronger leaves and roots instead of seed production. Avoid deadheading plants grown especially for their fruits or pods.
- Grow vegetables in a location that gets at least 8 hours of direct sunlight every day.
- Control weeds by hand-weeding and hoeing. Avoid deep hoeing or cultivating, which can bring weed seeds to the soil’s surface.
- Weed early and often so weeds don’t go to seed. Use mulch to smother and prevent annual weeds.
- Monitor rain because garden plants grow best with 1 to 2 inches of water per week. Water deeply once a week because shallow watering only moistens the top layer of soil and encourages the plant’s roots to move there instead of growing deeper.
Garden Tips for the Northeast
Every region has their own individual quirks and particulars that will make any garden shine. In New England, then our inconsistent spring weather makes a difference. Brian Sullivan, Vice President for Gardens, Landscape, and Outdoor Collections at The New York Botanical Garden notes:
“Take a look at the characteristics of your garden area—from the climate to sun exposure.It’s the most important thing to start with because you’ll want to understand the limits and the possibilities.”
For example, June in the Northeast means peonies.
To find out the native plants that bloom in the area, then head to the local garden shop and simply ask questions about the best plants for the region and any particulars of your home garden area.
As spring turns to summer, than flowers start to bloom. It is a great time of year to stop and smell the roses or jot down the flowers in bloom for next year!
Ultimately, like all things in life, a little goes a long way. A little work in the garden each week will ensure a prosperous bloom throughout the year. It is important to weed, prune, deadhead and keep the garden tidy to ensure the plants thrive.
It is important to remain patient. If you overwater hoping plants will grow faster, they may wilt. Remain patient and monitor regularly, then you’ll know when something looks wrong. Like everything in your home. It’s a process. As Brian Sullivan captures the essence of homeownership through the garden!
“Gardening is a process. It doesn’t just happen in one day—it takes time.”
Just like with your home services, keep on eye on the main systems (plumbing, HVAC and electrical) through preventative maintenance and you’ll reward yourself in the end!