Hopefully you have begun your garden. Maybe most of your plants are in the ground. Maybe you have planted and things are beginning to grow. Now you need to maintain the space. Now is the time for watering, staking, mulching.
Your plants will probably need water. As you might guess, consistent watering will produce the best results. An inexpensive soaker hose system might be an option if you have a large space. Soaker hoses use half as much water as sprinkler systems and the plant leaves usually stay drier, which avoids some disease problems. Plants with wilting, yellowing or dead leaf margins mean your plants need more water. Too little water usually shows with plants with brown or dead leaves and stunted growth. You can even buy a moisture meter if you are the scientific type.
Make sure that the soil around plants is loose enough to quickly absorb water and nutrients. Spray a gently spray of water, not a fireman type gusher of water. Use an inch or two of mulch on the soil surface above the root area. Mulching reduces evaporation of water and soil erosion. Mulching also reduces diseases and weed growth and helps to regulate the soil temperature. Almost any organic matter can be used as mulch material. If you don’t want to purchase bagged mulch, try hay, straw, leaves, sawdust, paper, bark or grass clippings. Pine needles and coffee grounds make great mulch for acid loving plants like azaleas, blueberries and rhododendrons.
Weed regularly. Weeds are a problem as they also harbor insects and disease. Take out any dead plants. Dead weeds or plant stalks lying around can be a haven for pests. Keep your tools disinfected with a simple soap and water rinse. Feed the soil with plenty of compost.
Provide support to plants that need it. There are several types of supports like trellises, stakes, A-frames and teepees. Support can be a tall stake with twine anchored to the ground with in ground stakes. Staking gives you more space in your garden. It gives plants more light exposure. It circulates air and makes it easier to prune and harvest.
Most importantly and most fun is to pick! Harvest vegetables as soon as they are ripe and remove harvested plants. Use the vegetables that day or store them for later. You have earned this treat.
Kudos to the Thyme for Herbs group, which held its event last weekend, bringing hundreds of area folks to the Beaumont Botanical Gardens at Tyrrell Park. The gardens were looking lovely, the speeches were well attended and most of us went home with fabulous new plants.