By Mecca Ray-Rouse

Plant and harvest

The danger of frost has passed, so it’s time to get those vegetable starts in the ground. Most veggies like fertile, loose soil, so make sure your garden beds are ready by tilling about a half-inch of organic material into the soil. In June, vegetables can be planted from either starts or seed. If you planted an early-to-mid-spring crop of greens, those should be ready for harvest. Cole crops like broccoli and cabbage can be harvested in June, but wait to replant these cool-weather crops until late summer. Get your trellises ready for cucumbers, tomatoes, and vining ornamentals.

Flower power

Welcome the summer with heat-loving annuals and perennials. Sunflowers, Shasta daisies, lavender, daylily, aster, and zinnias all enjoy the summer weather. These flowers are also known to attract butterflies, along with the obvious buddleia (butterfly bush) that blooms from summer through fall. Cosmos, Echinacea, snapdragons, and foxglove are summer bloomers that are known to attract bees. Make sure to water regularly as the weather starts to heat up in July. With all these flowers in full bloom, cutting a beautiful summer bouquet is almost necessary. Cutting (or deadheading) spurs the plant to produce more flowers, optimizing growth.

Stay hydrated

With the heat comes the need for more watering. Mulch is not only great for the soil, it is also great for holding in moisture. Be sure to rake mulch that has crusted over to allow water to absorb into the soil. Another way to save water and still properly hydrate your garden is by changing the time of day when you water. Cool summer mornings allow the water to be absorbed before the sun’s heat evaporates it. This also gives plants water they can utilize throughout the day. When you water, make sure to water the plant’s root zone, which is one to three times the diameter of it’s canopy.

Late-summer plantings

August is a busy month for gardeners: Annuals and perennials are at their peak, the summer harvest is starting, and the opportunity to begin planting for a fall harvest has begun. Continue to fertilize and water your plants as needed. Late summer is a great time to start planting cole crops like kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. These can be harvested throughout the fall and into the winter if temperatures permit. With cole crops, make sure to use a complete fertilizer for faster growth.