Top 5 Summer Gardening Tips

Top 5 Summer Gardening Tips

An article by Travis Key from Lazy Dog Farm

As we move into the summer months, outside temperatures are steadily increasing for gardeners across the country. These warmer temperatures are generously welcomed by northern gardeners who can finally start planting. But for gardeners in warmer climates, this means that some changes in strategy may be needed.

In humid climates, warmer weather means that disease pressure will begin to increase. Common garden fungal diseases like powdery mildew and downy mildew will start to appear on a wide range of plants, especially cucurbits. Squash, cucumbers, and watermelon are particularly susceptible to fungal diseases as humidity and outside temperatures increase.

Warmer temperatures also mean that insects will grow faster and reproduce faster. And once those problematic insects (like squash bugs) start reproducing in your garden, it can often mean the end for a row or bed or plants. If possible, try to eliminate the adults (either through hand removal or spraying) before they’re able to reproduce.

Despite all this bad news, there are things we can do to improve our chances of success as we move into the hot summer months. Below we’ll discuss five strategies that can help you be more successful in your backyard garden, despite the overwhelming heat.

Succession Planting

Because our warm growing season is so long, we’re big fans of succession planting — especially when it comes to squash and cucumbers. We’ll usually have 2-3 plantings of these delicious garden treats between April and late June. Succession planting allows us to have a continual harvest throughout the warm growing season, without trying to squeeze every ounce of production from each plant.

This requires a bit of planning to make it work. You’ll want to plant the second round of squash/cucumbers right when the first round starts producing well. That will ensure that the second planting starts producing when the first planting starts to go downhill.

Planting Disease Resistant Varieties

For any vegetable you want to grow in your backyard garden, there are tons of different varieties to choose. Some are older, heirloom varieties that many like to grow for flavor or the ability to save seeds. And there are improved, hybrid varieties that have advantages over those older varieties.

These disease-resistant hybrids are usually much tougher in the hottest part of summer and are able to withstand a lot of the disease pressure that they’ll face. For your mid to late summer plantings, opt for varieties that have that built-in disease resistance. Those seeds may cost a little more, but they are well worth it!

Know When to Call It Quits

Removing a plant that’s still producing can be one of the toughest things for a gardener to do, but it’s something that will benefit your garden greatly in the long haul. When plants start going downhill because of heat stress, disease pressure, or insect pressure, remove them from your garden.

Although you may still get a few more fruits by leaving them there, it’s not worth it. At that point you’re basically providing a breeding ground for diseases and insects, compounding problems for future years. This is why succession planting is so important. Pull the sickly plants and hopefully you’ve got more in the pipeline.

Minimize Overhead Watering

We can’t control how much it rains, but we can control how much water we put on our plant leaves. Leaf moisture is a big contributing factor to many of the disease issues we see on vegetable plants in the summer months. If we can keep that leaf moisture to a minimum, we can get much more from our plants.

We do this mainly by using drip irrigation in our in-ground and raised bed gardens. Although the task of installing a drip system may seem daunting for a beginner, it is well worth it. You’ll not only save water and time, but you’ll also have fewer disease issues. If a drip irrigation system isn’t a feasible option, try hand watering around the base of the plants and not on the leaves.

Feed Your Plants

Healthy plants are more resilient — simple as that. A plant with dark green leaves will be able to withstand disease pressure much more than a plant with light green leaves. Feed your plants every two weeks with AgroThrive General Purpose or AgroThrive Fruit & Flower to ensure a more robust root system, greener leaves, and more resilient plants.

If you follow these five tips, you should be able to extend your harvest windows and make your backyard garden even more bountiful.

Thousands of gardeners have been tuning in to The Lazy Dog Farm YouTube channel where Travis covers a variety topics ranging from how to successfully start seedlings to how to make a flavorful hot sauce that packs a punch. Accompanied by his wife Brooklyn and their two boys, the gardens on their 2 acre homestead in southwest Georgia are always filled with a wide variety of vegetables that are enjoyed fresh or preserved for later.

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