Fertilize and Water. If I tell you to do two things at this time of year, it is fertilize and water. Mid to late summer is about the time to start thinking about giving your garden a much needed boost by fertilizing.The soil nutrients in my new raised beds I installed this spring has been mostly depleted by now and is in need for a little extra help. Most of the time I would use Lane Forest Products VeggieBoost or Barnyard Compost to help give my veggies a pick-me-up, but my beds are still fairly full and the soil is close to the top. This year I have chosen to use NutriRich, a bagged fertilizer always in stock at Lane Forest Products. It is so easy to use and it is well composted, made from Chicken Compost that won’t burn my plants. It comes in a crumble form, so it is really easy to disperse evenly on my garden beds by hand. I really appreciate that!
In my garden the plants that demand extra TLC this time of year are the ones that are putting on the most growth, such as the cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. They are still putting on fruit and will also benefit with a round of fertilizer. These vegetables still have a growth spurt that started over a month ago, so any fertilizer that was in the ground has now been used up or washed out, due to excess watering. Watering our plants more often and with more water volume in the summer tends to cause the nutrients in the soil to get flushed out. This is why it is so important to fertilize this time of year.
A word of advice: It is important that you water thoroughly right after you apply whatever fertilizer you may use. If you leave undiluted fertilizer on plant fibers without washing it off, the fertilizer will burn the plant. To avoid this, water immediately and deeply after you apply fertilizer to assure the water and nutrients penetrate deep down into the soil. If the top of your soil is a little ‘crusty’ due to being too dry, use a few drops of Dawn dish soap in a gallon of water, this will break the surface tension and allow the water to penetrate the soil. The dish soap, in small amounts, will also benefit the plant by allowing the roots to absorb nutrients more effectively.
I have been sprinkling NutriRich Fertilizer and Bone Meal on the soil and then making sure that I water extra deep. In my experience this has proven to be a good method to get the most out of my efforts. The plants are healthier, stronger and better to resist any disease or pest infestation.
The best time to water at this time of year, is in the early morning when the sun’s rays are low. That is when the plant leaf pores open to ‘breathe’; taking in carbon dioxide and giving off oxygen. The sunshine stimulates them to uptake water & nutrients and within the leaves.. This is the time, before the hot mid-day sun, that photosynthesis also takes place. With the weather turning quit warm and dry, most plants require plenty of water. The plant will shut its pores when the sun is high in the sky. I would not suggest watering in late evening. The plants won’t have much time to utilize the sun’s rays, and you are taking the chance of inviting rot and disease into the picture.
There is one drawback on putting the Bone Meal I put down. I have been seeing little holes dug in several places in and around my garden. The last one was especially close to my kale! I thought maybe it was my neighbor’s cat again, but upon looking closer at the foot prints left behind, I discovered it was a small Red Fox. My best guess is he must have been digging for the “invisible bones” in the soil where I sprinkled bone meal a few days before. Silly little fox. I don’t have chickens to worry about any longer, so now I can enjoy all the different wildlife that comes to visit or may just be passing through. Anyone who might live in the city or in urban areas be aware, bone meal will attract all types of animals; dogs, cats or even raccoons. They will smell the ‘bone’ and if you don’t have a secure fencing around your garden, you may wake up in the morning to little holes where they have tried to find the hidden bones.
My hanging flower baskets are still doing well, but they need a good soaking each and every morning. Hanging baskets are too often over looked and tend to die off this time of year, but with extra attention, they can last until the first frost comes.