By Tiffany Selvey, Master Gardener and mama of 1
The heat has arrived in Northwest Arkansas — bad news for hair-dos, good news for gardens. With heat comes humidity and with these conditions in place, our flower and vegetable gardens require some maintenance. To keep your gardens beautiful through the hot days of summer and into fall, stay on top of these basic maintenance tasks.
1. Watering– Thankfully we have had plenty of rain this spring and summer, so our water bills have stayed pleasantly low. This could change any time, so have a watering plan in place before the long, hot, dry days hit. Water thoroughly any time the soil is dry 1 inch below the surface.
2. Deadheading– If dry blooms are left on the plant then it has produced its seed, so it has done its reproductive responsibility for the year. By removing spent blooms from summer flowers the plants continue blooming to produce seed. Keep plants deadheaded by removing spent blooms every couple of days. Use a sharp pair of pruning shears or scissors to remove flowers. Don’t forget to clip a couple bright, fresh flowers to bring indoors to enjoy!
3. Deal with Pests– It is much easier to manage pests when you can identify them before they have a chance to become an infestation. Deal with pests when they arrive, using natural remedies when possible. Once you have an infestation, it is much more difficult to avoid using chemicals.
4. Weeding– Yes, it’s the dreaded “W” word. Removing weeds not only keeps your gardens looking beautiful, but it also keeps your plants from having to compete for water and nutrients when they are in the highest demand. Keeping gardens heavily mulched will help cut down on weeding and watering. Because the soil is covered, water doesn’t evaporate as quickly and since weed seeds are blocked from the sun, fewer of them germinate.
Don’t let the heat keep you from taking care of your garden. Take advantage of cool air by working in mornings or evenings when the sun isn’t directly overhead and be sure to reward yourself with a cold treat after working in the garden.
Tiffany Selvey is a Master Gardener who writes about her passion for growing, cooking, and living naturally at www.Songbird-Gardens.com. When she’s not elbow deep in soil, she enjoys raising a very active son, laughing with her husband, and wrangling their pets. Follow Tiffany’s gardening adventures on Facebook , Instagram and on Twitter.