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Sweet summer is here and is a beautiful time in the victory garden! Many are firing up the grills and savoring the abundance that we’ve nurtured for the past few months. Of course, summer still has things to tend to, but it’s also a perfect time to enjoy the fruits of our labors! Summer to-do’s can dramatically extend your growing season — so let’s get started.
PLANT SEEDS, SEEDLINGS
Summer is still prime planting time. You may be harvesting, but if you had a deer eat everything or you didn’t have time to start in spring, you can still plant your favorite tomato, squash and pepper varieties in the heat. Also, don’t forget sweet potatoes, beans, corn and melons — especially in central Texas. I’ve had tomatoes and potatoes from my garden on my Thanksgiving table while in the Hill Country.
Once summer starts fading, you can add carrots, kale, beets, spinach and broccoli. Just check your forecast for those rare nights that dip into freezing and cover your plants. This will give your plants enough time to put on growth and develop roots to weather minor dips in temperature in the fall.
WEEDING NEVER ENDS
To make it more manageable, I advise going out in your garden as often as possible. Pulling out small, barely-there weed seedlings is much easier than hacking with a hoe. Be sure to pull out as much of the root system as you can, since that will prevent new weeds from popping up later. Also, be careful about disturbing easily dispersed seeds, like dandelions. Try to cup your hands around the seed pods when pulling to prevent them from shaking and spreading their weed seeds.
BATTLE THE BUGS
There’s only one task I dislike more than weeding — it’s battling the bugs. There’re so many kinds of insect pests that could possibly plague your garden. My blog covers this more in-depth, but for starters:
• Go into your garden every day. The more familiar you are with the appearance of your plants, the faster you’ll identify pest problems before they get out of hand. Pay extra attention to the undersides of large leaves, where many common bugs hide and lay eggs.
• Make your garden a welcoming environment for toads, spiders, birds and even lizards. These guys will make your job organically easier by eating bugs by the ton! Leave a dish of water out and make hiding spots/habitats for reptiles and birds. Pro tip: Don’t brush down every spider web you see.
TIME TO HARVEST
Seed, time and harvest. The cyclic time in the garden gives beauty all year, and summer is such an amazing season. Homegrown, delicious food picked from the garden is a joy that never gets old to me. I hope you are harvesting, and planting and your summer to-do tasks bring you delight in the victory garden.
DeeAnn Rivera is a Spring Hope resident and garden enthusiast who blogs at www.VictoryGardenGal.com.