With flowers springing and bird songs filling the air, summer is right around the corner.  Your garden has been on hiatus all winter long and is probably ready for a little more TLC before the heat wave of the next few months appears.  Nurturing the plants you love is time sensitive, so  here are a few tips on keeping your garden pretty and disease-free:

  • Avoid compressing the soil by making sure its dry, as damaging the soil could harm the rest of the garden.
  • Weeds pop up as fast as the temperature rises, so be sure to tackle those pesky things first.
  • Start a garden journal, which includes information on planting dates, seed types, and weather changes.  By drawing where the plants are this year, next year’s harvest will mimic what worked and what didn’t from this year.
  • The next time you boil vegetables, save the water.  Use it to water potted patio plants, and don’t be surprised by their response to vegetable soup!
  • Use chamomile tea to control fungus, which frequently attacks young seedlings.  Add a tiny bit of tea to the soil around the base of sprouts weekly.
  • A quarter of an inch of leftover tea or coffee grounds applied once a month will keep the pH of soil on the acidic side for acid-loving plants such as blueberries, gardenias, azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias.
  • Block planting as opposed to planting in rows makes efficient use of land by keeping the spacing between plants tight and removing preventable pathways.
  • Pile together pulled plants, leaves, organic materials and mulches to create your own compost, saving you the hassle of buying soil.  Also a bonus: throw in your leftovers from the kitchen!
  • Water is a precious resource, so don’t waste it!  Mulches and soaker hoses are extremely helpful for summer crops.  Water in the evening to avoid water from evaporating or blowing away on a gusty day.  Get to know your soil and its ability to hold moisture.  Planting similar plants together—thirsty vs. drought tolerant—prevents them from receiving too little or too much water.  Another great idea: capture water in rain barrels.