Midsummer Gardening Checklist

It's not to late to save your garden or to even start a new one! Follow along with our midsummer to-do list to help pick things up again while encouraging growth and improving fall yields.

Pull Bolted or Spent Plants & Keep Planting!
This one is a hard one for me to do. Maybe that half dead bed of peas will pull a Lazarus and spring back to life pushing out a few more harvests! Not gonna happen, pull and compost the dead plants (if you suspect the plants are diseased avoid composting) add a little good soil and plant something else in the ground.
Those bolted radishes are taking up valuable garden bed real-estate! Remember to rotate crops and plant something different. We particularly like planting more carrots as they won't mind the cooler temperatures later this fall. Included in our late summer plantings are bush beans, they are quick to grow and won't take over your garden if you have limited space. Zone 4 gardeners will also be able to squeeze in a planting of lettuce, spinach, radishes and even beets.

Harvest Garlic + Replace with Dutch Clover
Your soil's nutrients took a beating growing that beautiful garlic, now is the time to plant some dreamy dutch clover. Dutch clover will amend the soil and attract the honey bees who your squash and brussels sprouts desperately need right now. Yeah yeah yeah, dutch clover spreads, but what have you done for a honey bee lately while they've been slaving away feeding our entire planet?

Celery Maintenance
Every year we try and grow something new, this year we are taking a stab at celery. If you planted in early summer chances are your stalks will need an elastic hair binder around each plant to encourage taller stalks. Also build up the soil around the base of the plant with mulch and compost and don't forget to water! These guys are always thirsty, and if you live in a world where you think the rain is enough for your garden, think again! 

Pumpkins + Squash Friends
Monitor for Squash Vine Borer.  Apply Mulch and fertilizer. If trying to grow great big pumpkins consider gently removing all but your largest healthiest baby fruit at this stage so your plant can send all its nutrients and good juju to that particular pumpkin. 

Watermelon & Melon Maintenance
Place cardboard and/or straw between the soil and fruit to prevent rotting. 

Plant a Pollinator Garden Bed
Many garden centers are purging plants and flowers at a discounted price. Fill your garden with many pollinator friendly varieties now to get those female squash flowers pollinated and fruiting. Checkout our pollinator friendly flower guide for more information on what to plant.

Fertilize + Prune (repeat) 
Remove old withered and yellow leaves throughout the garden on plants that are still producing. You can try and keep your herbs going by deadheading but for the freshest flavor we prefer starting over and sowing new seeds every few weeks, Cilantro is a good example of an herb you must keep replanting after it insists on flowering. Apply a compost tea or drench plants in a organic liquid fertilizer, we love TwoMikes every few weeks. 

Six Essential Gardening Tools

Original Illustration by  Rachel Rolseth

Original Illustration by Rachel Rolseth

After a few years of gardening, you start to get a feel for the tools that you can't live without, and the gadgets that looked cool at the garden store but you never really use...

To help you decide on what tools might be right for you, we asked the knowledgable ladies at Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply to give us their must have gardening tool picks. For a few of us this might just be the first time you realize that the small shovel thing is really called a 'trowel'. 

A basic gardening tool kit should include a hoe, gloves, growl, pruner, trowel, watering can and shovel. Original Illustration by  Rachel Rolseth

A basic gardening tool kit should include a hoe, gloves, growl, pruner, trowel, watering can and shovel. Original Illustration by Rachel Rolseth

When deciding on what to buy, a big consideration is how much to spend. You want your tools to be reliable, but that doesn't mean they need to be the BEST EVER the first time you buy them.

Chances are you'll make some adjustments as you go. Luckily Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply has you covered for a range of options. From wood to metal, beginner to expert, they have a wide price range of quality tools to choose from. 

GARDEN TOOL ESSENTIALS | WHAT TO SPEND

Shovel: price range, $15-30
Great for moving earth and digging holes, breaking ground on a new plot, planting shrubs or small trees. 
Trowel: price range, $8 to $15
Great for moving smaller amounts of earth, planting and weeding. A must have multifunctional tool for ever gardener. Some even have measurements on the side for plant depth, a handy lil feature. 
Pruner: $15 to $75
Great for trimming woody perennials, trees, shrubs, thicker stocked plants, etc. Also great multifunctional tool for cutting twine, vines, opening packages, etc.
Pro-tip - Keep em sharp and dry when not in use (otherwise they'll rust easier) 
Hoe (hand hoe or long handle): $15 to $75
Great for turning over soil, quick weeding in a large area or for edging. These come in both long and short handle options so find the one best suited for you. 
Gloves: nitrile, range, $5 to $10
Great for keeping hands (somewhat) clean, protecting against thorns and other unpleasant pokey or itchy things, and for general use around the yard. 
Pro-tip - get a few pairs, keep them dry between use (so they don't smell) and buy leather or canvas ones if you're dealing with roses, thinner gloves won't do it
Watering Can: $10 - $40
Great for gently watering your plants, pots and container gardens. This method can take a little longer than a hose or sprinkler but you have more control over the water flow and can use that extra time observing your plants

For more information, call or stop by Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply. They have everything you need to get started this season, including the most adorable chickens you've ever seen.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Planning: Site Designs

There is certainly not a one size fits all site design for every garden. Maybe you just have a few what you thought were dead spaces between pine trees, or a small plot in the back of your apartment. Don't stress; there is a garden design for you. If you're planning to sow seeds directly into the ground, consider first your hardiness zone and do a couple of soil tests to determine the type of soil you are working with this could effect your site plan.

 

POTAGER (french style kitchen garden)

The Site: Small scale + full sun. Choose an area close to the kitchen since you will often be stepping away while you cook to pull fresh veggies and herbs. Potager gardens are traditionally kept very tidy with cleared mulched or paved lanes for walking and plant cultivation. We encourage laying down Dutch clover for durable soil nourishing walking paths. What the heck is full sun? Full sun means 6-8 hrs. of sunlight exposure each day. 

Plant Suggestions: Plants should be veggies and herbs you use the most often in the kitchen. What do you like to cook with every week? Also consider planting quick or multiple harvest vegetables like lettuces, scallions, radishes, sweet peas, cherry tomatoes, hot peppers and herbs. Save slower growing and larger harvest vegtables like squash and corn for a larger growing area.

  

 

 

CONTAINER GARDEN + COMPANION PLANTING

The Site: Small roof top or patio + full to partial sun. 

Plant Suggestions: We suggest planting small polycultures or companion plants in larger pots and small individual herbs. Basil planted alongside a tomato plant will produce rich tasting fruit, while including some bee balm to attract pollinators. Greens of all varieties love to be planted alongside herbs. We suggest big pots of kale and rosemary and sage, or individual pots of fresh herbs. 


 

 

 

SHADE + ACIDIC GARDEN PATCH

tD_garden_Acidic.jpg

The Site: Acidic soil with shade: perhaps you have a few pine trees dropping pine needles near by adding more acid to your soil. Maybe you thought this area was a dead garden space.
(Most garden plants thrive at a pH between 6 and 7.5, acidic soil has a PH below 7, you can get cheap soil tests at just about any garden center.)

Plant Suggestions: Blueberry bushes or their close sisters serviceberries/Juneberries alongside ostrich ferns (maybe you will get edible fidleheads next year?). Remember they need lots of water. Try planting some onions or leaks and don’t forget the garlic in the fall. Use this area to try to attract your pollinators to benefit the rest of your garden spaces. Try planting coral bells or bleeding hearts. 


 

 

 

KEYHOLE GARDEN

The Site: Works well in most site conditions - full sun, partial sun/partial shade and full shade. The amount of sunlight and shade will dictate the types of edible plants used in the garden bed. This garden bed design is geared towards efficient use of space and as such works well in urban areas where growing space is usually at a premium. Keyhole beds maximize the amount of planting space while minimizing the amount of pathways while using a similar amount of total square feet compared to a conventional rectilinear raised bed or row crops.  

Plant Suggestions: Full sun keyhole beds can contain sun-loving annuals such as tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and basil while full shade beds can contain shade-loving annuals such as cabbage, kale, and most other leafy greens.

Pest Management: Aphids 101

These are aphids... aka "plant lice"... Yummy!!

One type of aphid infestation.

One type of aphid infestation.

Aphids  come in a variety of colors and there are aprox 4,400 species known, but most are small just like these little green ones I had attacking my sage plants.

When I first noticed the tiny insects, I shook them off the plant but didn't think much of it (bad call).

What makes these little dudes so bad?

  • Aphid infestations can destroy an entire plant and if left untreated, they can spread to surrounding plants (source)
  • These pests suck out plant sap, damaging leaves, stems, and flowers in the process (source)
  • Heavy infestations will cause leaves to curl, wilt or yellow and stunted plant growth and several species can transmit plant diseases, particularly viruses which they pass on during feeding (source)
  • As they feed, aphids secrete large amounts of a sticky fluid known as honeydew. This sweet goo drips onto plants, attracting ants and promoting a black sooty mold growth on leaves (source)
  • They reproduce extremely fast, like 80 new bugs a day fast..

After reading about different ways to approach the invasion naturally, I tried one out.

Aphids eating a sage plant

Aphids eating a sage plant

After inspecting all of the surrounding plants, the infestation seemed to be concentrated on the sage plants (thankfully) so I thoroughly inspected their leaves, stems and base.

Most of the aphids were towards the top so I squished them (yep) by pressing the sage leaves together firmly. This seemed to be fairly effective and although it's not the nicest way to get rid of them, it does ensures they won't spread  all over the of the garden if you were to just brush them off.

Squish!

Squish!

Paint with soapy mixture

Paint with soapy mixture

Then I made a soapy mixture using an organic plant based soap, got my paint brush out and gave the plant a little bath.

Check the back of leaves for bugs, worms, eggs, etc.

Check the back of leaves for bugs, worms, eggs, etc.

I checked the plants a few times a day for the first 2 days after that and did find a few new aphids but I just squished those too and after almost 2 weeks, this has totally worked.

More on this later I'm sure..

Happy insect wars!