Mid-season Garden Tips
Going the Distance
By the time August arrives, we’re more than halfway through the outdoor growing season in Colorado. The big plans we made in the spring have fallen into place, and we’re shifting into gear to harvest our mid- and late-summer crops. While it’s exciting to watch a garden come together, it’s also normal to lose steam after months of thoughtful hard work. To stay motivated, we’ve set out seven Grow + Gather-approved maintenance tips to support your mid-season garden for a plentiful harvest.
Prepare for Stormy Weather.
We’re well beyond the snow scares of late spring, but severe weather, like hail and windy rain storms, can still wreak havoc on your garden. If you’re new to gardening in Colorado, you can take your chances with summer storm season or gather some useful tools, such as anti-hail netting and other crop covers, to protect your flourishing garden.
Step Back the Fertilizer.
If you use fertilizer in the garden, lay off on nitrogen-rich fertilizers by mid-summer since your spring-sowed plants are established and need to focus on setting and ripening fruit. While organic gardeners use natural fertilizers, the best approach to happy plants is to set out a long-term game plan that improves soil health so that you’re not reliant solely on fertilizers to keep plants alive. In general, in our soil gardens, we apply an organic all-purpose fertilizer to our beds at the beginning of each growing season, as well as our homemade compost to encourage diverse microbial life in the soil. These microbes then make the essential nutrients in the soil available to the plants and set up the garden for harvest success.
Early summer was rainier than usual in the Denver metro area, but we’ve headed into typical hot and dry August days. It’s not too late to install a well-monitored, water-wise drip watering system in your garden, but if you’re not able to do so this year, your garden can still thrive as long as you’re attentive to its changing water needs. Observe and monitor the soil moisture, and adjust water amount and frequency based on what you notice, keeping in mind that watering is best done in the morning or early evening and when it’s not windy to maximize absorption.
Weeding is far from our idea of fun, but keeping your garden’s weeds in check prevents a competition between weeds and your plants for food, water and growing space. When weeding, clear out dead and rotting vegetation to reduce the chance of pests taking up residence. If you haven’t already, mulch around your plants to reduce weeds, retain moisture and regulate temperatures.
Shade When Necessary.
While it was more temperate than usual for the start of this year’s growing season, August is known for bright, scorching days, and with our high-altitude sunshine, providing light shade for your plants with shade cloths can reduce stress so plants can focus energy on growing.
Support Large Plants.
Now’s the time to ensure those tomato cages and stakes you installed with your seedlings in the spring are still providing the support needed as your large fruit-bearing plants reach mature height and set fruit. Our tomato plants seem to be growing inches each day and sprouting new limbs faster than we can count. Besides judicious pruning, we’ve found additional bamboo staking and the use of velcro garden tape to be the least invasive method for supporting our plants as their fruit ripens.
Don’t forget to stay on top of harvesting. You’ll help plants focus on setting more fruit, thereby increasing your plants’ overall productivity.
Follow along via Instagram and Facebook as we apply these tips to our gardens at Grow + Gather this summer. And in the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing exciting Grand Opening news with our followers. Stay tuned.