Tuesday, June 28, 2011

After the Spring Rush

While the spring gardening rush effectively ended for me with the planting of the vegetable garden that doesn't mean there isn't much more work to be done.  A regular reader recently asked what sort of gardening can be done in the summer months?  In my experience, other than annual plants, any and all gardening can be done throughout the summer and into fall but there are a few issues to be noted.

Gardeners often line up at plant nurseries early in the season, not just because we can't wait to get outside in the dirt, but also because we know that if we want a particular variety of plant it may not be available later in the year.  To get the best plant selection you need to visit nursuries as early as possible.  That doesn't mean those plant purchases necessarily go straight into the ground though.  I have plants purchased over a month ago that are still waiting their permanent space in a flower bed.  In the meantime they are sitting in a partly shaded location and being watered frequently.  While the plants can live in pots right through the summer season the small pots can dry out quickly so a shaded location and water will help to keep them alive.  If you're not able to get to the garden centre early, don't dismay!  Although the selection diminishes, there are still plants to be found.  In fact, some of the best plant deals come in mid-summer when the nurseries are quiet and they are looking to move their stock.

Last July I found all these plants for a fraction of the cost at a nursery closing sale

 Another issue with summer gardening is heat.  Heat can work both against you, and your plants.  If you have to work in your garden in the high temperatures of summer wear a hat and sunscreen and bring along a cool drink.  Working on a hot day can be unpleasant and even negatively impact your health so think about completing your chores in the early morning or late evening and leave the hot summer afternoons for lounging on the beach.  If the heat can impact your body negatively the same can be said for plants.  Try not to transplant in the middle of a hot day.  Again, work in the early mornings or late evenings or, if possible, wait for a cloudy day when plants won't be as stressed by the hot temperatures.

A side effect of hot temperatures is lack of water.  The ground dries out as the temperatures heat up and it gets harder to dig in the ground.  If you must dig, try watering the area a day before and letting the water soak in.  When you work the following day the digging will be easier.  If you are transplanting, make sure that your plants and trees get a good amount of water when you plant and keep watering consistently afterward.  The hot sun will mean they are losing water quicker and likely their roots will be somewhat damaged from the move.  This means they have less root to take up water and the roots won't be deep enough to capture water far down in the ground.  Watering well and providing a thick layer of mulch will cool the ground and keep your plant roots safe so they can begin to flourish.

As for myself I will be working on flower beds all summer long.  It seems I never have enough time in spring and fall to do all I would like.  Presently I'm still working on planting up my purchases from the spring plant sale in the entrance garden and it could be another month before that bed nears completion.

Sometimes it feels like there is a never ending list of garden chores to complete all summer long.  Like clearing out the invasive bindweed seen below.

Or turning over my never ending compost pile..

What sort of garden chores do you do in the summer?


  1. Our summer heat is in full force right now. 90+ degrees and really humid. I have tunnels under my garden that I need to address---rotten varmits.

  2. Thanks Marguerite! We are heading out this Saturday and one of the first things I'm going to do is check out the nurseries - maybe I'll find some bargains. That was a great tip about watering one day and planting the next. We've had someone cutting our grass and he said all of the seedlings we moved from the forest are all doing well. But he said our hedgerow needed some work - I can't wait to see it - probably very overgrown - I swear it has its very own eco-system:)

  3. We are in the eighties, but the main chore is WEEDING. No preen or roundup this year and I am living to regret it.

  4. Get to your garden centers as soon as possible.
    Kent is already sold out of certain plants and they were giving away the ever berrying strawberry plant for $2.50 1/2 price along with fruit trees already marked down by $20.00. Maybe they think Summer is already over.
    I find that the middle of July is the best bargain's. Don't forget Walmart:((I really don't care for this chain)& the Superstore usually have great bargains.
    It is the best time to buy miracle grow also because they don't want to have to over Winter any bulk items. Bonus for us.

  5. When it gets triple digit, I act like it's winter and stay inside! When I get a chance to get out, I weed. I would love to plant, but in this drought I'm even putting that off! You're right - there seems like a never ending list of chores. Good info in this post.

  6. This is a major summer of weeding for us. We have let our mulch thin out as we prepare to do some major planting. After which we will top up the mulch. In the meantime, weeds rule! :)

  7. I am too impatient to let pots sit unplanted. I always want to see them where they will go in the garden, so I end up planting the summer nursery "finds" right away, in the heat, which is not best. I could never have a stash of new plants waiting to go into the ground!

  8. 'Cause we're market gardeners weeding and harvesting all summer and into the fall. If I have some spare time and extra energy, then the ornamental beds get some attention!

  9. Good advice Marguerite. I've been moving plants around, now my garden is growing up I want to reposition them. Luckily the weather is warm, cloudy and it rains a lot. I have a tree I want to move. I should get to it quickly. Like today or tomorrow. Or wait until the fall. Assuming, of course, that we get hot summer weather at some point. I hope we get summer this year :)

  10. I love end-of-season plant sales, particularly if you can pick up things that have just finished flowering because everyone wants to buy things in full bloom. Here it is more likely to be the rain than the heat that stops playing in the garden. I don't sow much during the summer, propagation is limited to cuttings, but unless we are in a drought I still happily move smaller plants around. Otherwise it tends to be a case of attempting to keep on top of the growth spurts, they so easily move from enchantingly vigorous to "can't walk around the garden anymore" excess!

  11. I frequent those sales as well...lots of good deals. In the summer, I am deadheading, weeding, monitoring moisture levels, picking vegetables, treating any problems organically, and watching for pests.

  12. Great posting! I work in a nursery and am constantly telling folks who are just now venturing out (months after our season begins) that some plants are not available all the time. "Visit early or visit often." I see new things every time I go into work.

    Also, when working in the summer, I tend to start really early in the morning (water and caffeine in hand) that way I do not notice the heat as much. Kinda like the story about the frog in the boiling water.

    I have so many plants waiting planting I had to build a shade canopy over them! Nothing but heat here now.

    Again, great post!

  13. Great post...I have a line up of pots like yours waiting to go in...;-)

    One of my favourite times to purchase trees is late autumn. Around here they almost always go fifty percent off. I don't plant them in the garden proper...but keep them in their pots and bury them in the ground, in the vegetable garden. They have always gotten through the winter there...same as on sale shrubs I don't know where to put till next spring...end of year sale..in the now exhausted veg garden.

  14. Janet - wow, those temperatures are huge. We only just beginning to break 20 degrees here (68 F). It's a long ways till full summer yet.

    Jane - you're welcome. You made me consider something I just take for granted. Always great to hear someone else's perspective.

    Donna - it seems like taxes, weeds never go away :)

    Witch - read my mind! I was just there to buy mulch and walked out with a truck full of plants. 99 cent perennials and it's not even July!! Not sure what they're thinking but was sure glad I stopped in.

  15. Holley - with those kinds of temperatures I couldn't even begin to think about gardening. You'll find me at the beach in that kind of weather.

    Ms.S - what a great plan for changing up your garden letting the mulch thin. As I've been planting my new bed I'm really wary of putting mulch in too soon as I know I'll want to move everything at least twice before I'm really settled on a planting scheme.

    Laurrie - I must confess, I must have taken home 30 plants from the sale this spring and I've continued to buy more, which is why I have literally dozens of pots sitting and waiting. Planting is my favourite part but I just can't keep up.

    Aagaard Farms - vegetables are just a whole other realm aren't they? not just the seeds and growing and picking but the processing too. I have just a small veggie garden and orchard and I can't believe the amount of work it generates.

  16. Melanie - I'm just starting to plant a new flower bed and already I can see I'll likely want to move plants around! funny how the work multiplies.

    Janet - I found the most wonderful Sea Holly this year that no one else wanted because it was limp and lifeless. I knew with a little tlc it would recover and now I've got a beautiful plant. Sales are fabulous!

    Sage Butterfly - who says there isn't any gardening to do in summer! your list is testament to how much time we spend in our gardens. (and how much we love them I suspect!)

    Tufa - thank you! A shade canopy sounds brilliant. I have them all sitting on the shady side of the garage right now and try to remember to water every couple of days.

    Bren - neat idea. I've never heard of planting in pots like that before but I may need to try it sometime. I used my veggie beds last fall too for plants I never got around to planting. Of course I needed to plant them quick this spring as the veggie beds were needed!

  17. Marguerite, One advantage of living in the maritimes is that real heat must be pretty rare (as it is in Maine). I often find myself spending the summer preparing new planting areas, and then I finally get plants in the ground in August, giving them a few weeks to get settled in and acclimated before winter. -Jean

  18. The sunshine and warmth have finally arrived! My veggies look happier already ... barring the rabbit I kicked out of there this morning!
    Love the pots waiting to be planted. I could never be that patient!

  19. Jean - You're right, when I see the regular temperatures in places like Texas and Georgia I cringe. We're much better able to work in summer here. Although I am still trying to adapt to humidity which knocks my socks right off.

    Kim - I saw a rabbit in the neighbours driveway up the street last week and thought, uh oh. I know they're in the neighbourhood but so far my yard isn't critter friendly enough for them to move in. One day that will change and I'll be asking you for tips!