7 Summer Garden Tasks

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It is officially summer! And with this season the garden matures. Plants are growing and blooming. Herbs become fragrant and vegetables bear fruit. This is the time of year for maintenance and weed and pest control!

These seven summer garden tasks ensure that your garden remains beautiful until late fall.

7 Summer Garden Tasks title meme

Summer Garden Tasks

These tasks can be accomplished in a few minutes a day. Walking through the garden area once a day, perhaps while watering, creates an awareness of what’s happening there. If something is amiss or needs attention, you can spot it and act quickly.

Weeding

This is the biggie among summer garden tasks! Warming temperatures and all those spring showers help the flowers and plants grow…and the weeds too! In fact, a great time to weed is right after a shower, when the ground is damp. Weeds pull up with little effort.

And the easiest weeds to pull are young ones. I’ve learned this from experience. As I walk through the garden daily, I pull any weeds that I see and drop them into a five gallon bucket. When the bucket fills up, I dump the contents into the large trash bin outside the fence, for trash pickup.

If weeds are overrunning the garden, pick an area and work through it diligently. Take a break and then move on to the next area. As the garden grows over the summer, weeds generally become less of a problem. The thriving plants create shade and fill in the area, deterring weed growth.

Use a mix of white vinegar with a squirt of dish soap in a spray bottle to kill weeds in areas away from flowers and herb. Drench the weeds with the mixture, on a hot sunny day, and they will be dead within 48 hours.

Watering

Classify this task under maintenance. As temperatures continue to rise and the rains come less frequently, watering becomes vital.

Containers tend to dry out more quickly than the rest of the garden. During hot, dry weather daily watering is essential. For containers a good indicator is to stick your finger into the dirt, up to the first knuckle. If the soil feels dry, water.

The rest of the garden needs approximately an inch of water a week. Note how often it rains and how much you get. During dry spells, sprinklers are a great way to water large areas. Soak the garden for half an hour and then move the sprinkler to another area. A well established garden can tolerate a bit of dryness. I very rarely have to water my  in-ground garden, however I water containers daily during the summer.

Once a month use a water soluble plant food to give the garden a boost of nutrition as it grows.

Summer Watering

Deadheading/Trimming Back

As you water containers, pinch off faded blooms. Called deadheading, this practice keeps plants flowering longer. Many flowering plants don’t need to be deadheaded. The blooms naturally fall off. However, if you see dried flowers on the plant, it’s beneficial to remove them.

Some perennials and herbs benefit from cutting the plants back, after they bloom, shearing away the dried flowers. Often the plants will bloom a second time. They include:

  • dianthus
  • daisies
  • hostas
  • coral bells
  • salvia
  • garden phlox
  • speedwell
  • lemon balm
  • bee balm
  • catmint

Fill In Bare Spots

As the garden matures, look for empty spots. Sprinkle the bare patch with seeds or add blooming annuals for an instant pop of color.

Or be creative and add rocks, driftwood, garden statues or a fairy garden. If you don’t have cats, a birdbath makes a wonderful addition to the garden. I place upside down clay flowerpots throughout my garden, to encourage spiders to make themselves at home. And I created a couple of toad houses from bricks and small slabs of concrete. These critters are garden allies that feed on unwanted pests.

Summer Garden Toad House

Control Pests

If your garden is home to spiders, toads, praying mantis and lady bugs, pests are kept to a minimum. I use natural approaches to pest control, as much as possible. See Ecological Garden Hacks.

As you water, weed and deadhead, watch for Japanese beetles. Pluck them off the plants…they don’t bite…and drop them into a bucket of soapy water. I do the same with cabbage worms in the vegetable garden.

Support Climbing Vines and Tall Plants

As plants mature, watch for those that need a little extra support. Use simple wooden stakes or bamboo canes for medium height plants needing support. For vines or taller plants, get creative. Make your own trellises from long sticks, fence sections, metal rods or extra garden rakes. Or purchase trellises and obelisks.

Tomato cages are available to support plants as they grow. Just add the cages while the tomato plants are still small and can easily fit inside them.

Summer Garden DIY Trellis

Mulch as Needed

Finally, check the layer of mulch in the garden and add to it as needed.

Mulch is a great way to keep weeds down, hold moisture in during the hot summer months and enrich the soil as it breaks down. It also keeps a garden looking neat and tidy. And if you use cedar mulch, it smells wonderful.

I typically add a four inch layer of fresh mulch every other year. Garden Centers often sell mulch by the truckload, which is more economical than purchasing individual bags of it.

Summer Garden Tasks Create a Happy Garden

Performing these simple summer garden tasks will keep your backyard paradise healthy and thriving, providing months of beauty. Getting out into the garden is also good for the body and soul. I make weeding and watering meditative experiences or times of expressing gratitude.

I benefit so much from my backyard garden. It brings me much joy and provides herbs for teas and veggies to eat. Tending my garden moves and stretches my body, contributing to my health. And sitting in my garden on summer evenings, with candlelight and a fire in the fire pit is pure bliss.

The very least I can do is take care of this magical place.

Summer Border

Check out these posts in the Backyard Garden Series

Easy Container Gardening

10 Low Maintenance Annuals to Grow

 


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Twilight in the Garden

After rain almost every day last week, and more thunderstorms moving in tomorrow, a window of opportunity presented itself today to do much needed work in the garden. I put in necessary time weeding and trimming and tidying up, while Greg mowed the yard and helped out where he was needed.

I motivated myself to keep going with the promise that I would enjoy the fruits of my labor by lighting a fire in the fire pit and scattering a few candles around the garden.

Twilight in the Garden

As the sun set behind a bank of gray clouds, I stretched my weary back and called it good. I have more to do, however I accomplished so much today. My backyard paradise resembles a garden again, a wild one after a week of rain, but a garden nonetheless. Tired, I almost passed on building a fire. A job well done brought me great satisfaction and for a moment I considered heading indoors and taking a much needed shower.

The beauty of the garden in summer, the peace and invitation to rest, won out.

Here are pics, from an evening in the garden.

Twilight in the Garden

The fairy garden is all filled in and makes me smile every time I look at it.

Twilight in the Garden

I continue to monitor the mystery plant, which is looking more and more like a cantaloupe after all.

Twilight in the Garden

I love candlelight in the garden! It’s important to use safe containers and keep flames away from grasses and plants or anything combustible. The metal lantern was a gift from my son and daughter-in-law. I have no idea what the metal cylinders are usually used for but they make interesting candle holders. I purchased these at a 2 Friends & Junk show. The rusty table was in Bob Moore’s backyard. I was happy to transfer it to mine, after he passed away.

Twilight in the Garden

More candles, with a backdrop of ornamental grasses that are beginning to tassel. The bistro table and chairs were another 2 Friends & Junk find several years ago.

Twilight in the Garden

This…this was the beauty that called to me. I’m so glad I listened. Greg and I carried out bowls of madras curried lentils that had been simmering all day in the slow cooker. (Recipe HERE) Night fell as we ate and candles flickered in the garden, their flames tiny echoes of the fire dancing in the fire pit.

And that small fire was perfect. I watched the leaping and twisting flames, mesmerized. John Geddes said “Light a campfire and everyone’s a storyteller.” We told stories tonight, primarily around work we’ve both been doing on our family trees at Ancestry.com. It was the fire though that was the main storyteller. It spoke of ancient quests and ever changing mysteries and the power of Light to illuminate the darkness.

I listened, with gratitude.

Twilight in the Garden

Growing Clematis Babies

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I only lost one perennial in the garden this spring, due to freezing temperatures. I had six clematis vines trailing up their trellises when the cold pinched them. Five came back. One did not. Losing one plant out of hundreds isn’t bad. And yet, there’s a gap where that clematis should be. I considered purchasing a new plant, but the perfectionist in me was concerned I couldn’t match the color of the other blooming vines in that area. And besides, I could use four or five new clematis plants.

I decided to try propagating clematis plants for the first time.

Growing Clematic Babies

Growing Clematis Babies in Water

 

There are several methods for creating new plants from existing ones. I decided to go with the easiest…growing new plants from cuttings in water. And I have the perfect container for rooting the vines in.

Growing Clematis Babies

My daughter Elissa passed on these unique bud vases to me, several years ago. I confess, it’s difficult for me, cutting flowers to use for display. I’d rather have them growing in my garden than dying in a vase, so I rarely gather flowers. However, these little vases make perfect incubators.

Growing Clematis Babies

Clematis Baby Cuttings

I took cuttings from these four beauties. Here are the easy steps I followed.

1) Prepare containers for rootings. They need to be tall enough to hold the cuttings. Dissolve aspirin in water and fill containers. The aspirin helps the cuttings to root. I used one low dosage aspirin in about 6 cups of water.

2) Cut a 6-8 inch section of vine from the top of the plant. Remove any leaves that lie below the water line, as they may rot. Clip off any blooms or buds so that energy is directed to rooting and not producing flowers.

3) Place cuttings, in aspirin water, in a bright window without direct sunlight. A north facing window is ideal. Use a grow light if a suitable window isn’t available. Change water daily, to prevent stagnation, and add a low dosage aspirin with each water change.

4) Once roots are 1/4-1 inch long, begin adding a tablespoon of potting soil a day to the container, so roots adapt to soil. When the container has mostly soil in it, transplant vine to a pot. Acclimate the vine to the outdoors by increasing the amount of sunshine it receives each day. When plant tolerates being outdoors for 24 hours, it’s ready to transplant into the ground.

Growing Clematis Babies

Test Tube Clematis Babies

I love creating, whether it’s a drawing or a recipe or a new plant. And I enjoy using what I already have on hand. It’s also important to be adaptable.

Cleaning the containers with a bottle brush, I accidentally broke the bottom of one of the tubes. Greg used a silicone sealer, in an attempt to fix it. I’m letting it cure for 24 hours. If it seals and holds water, great. I don’t mind the wabi sabi look…beauty in imperfection. And if it doesn’t hold water, that’s okay too. I still have five tubes.

It was as I was washing the containers that I recognized the irony of their shape, and laughed. These are large glass test tubes. I’m growing clematis babies…in test tubes. I have test tube babies. I couldn’t have a more appropriate container!

Growing Clematis Babies

Backyard Garden Series

Is your garden ready for spring planting? Need a selection of reliable, easy to grow perennials, herbs and annuals? Check out other posts in my Backyard Garden Series.

Spring Garden Tips

Ecological Garden Hacks

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

10 Super Easy Perennials to Grow

10 Low Maintenance Annuals to Grow

DIY Natural Mosquito Repellent

Growing Clematis Babies

 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program is designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

The Glory of Gardening

I experienced the incredible joy of being in gardening mode all day. My mom and I visited Sutherland’s Saturday morning, for their final half price sale. We arrived at the store’s garden center at 6:43…and there was already a long line of customers, eager for the gate to open at 7:00. We joined the crowd…and found all we were looking for!

I got very little done over the weekend, with those colorful flowers. However, I was up early this morning, ready to get everything planted before thunderstorms roll into the area tonight. What a full and beautiful day in the garden.

The Glory of Gardening

My garden lagged behind this year, hampered by a cold early spring. I learned much about patience and accepting what was this spring, as day after day I inspected the garden for signs of life. Just as plants began to emerge, and a few buds appeared, another cold weekend with below freezing temperatures shut the garden down. I was afraid I had lost plants. I had to be okay with that.

The Glory of Gardening

Today I couldn’t tell that the garden overslept. Colorful blooms are appearing at last, the empty patches of ground are filling in and although I was delayed in planting in the many containers scattered about, I remedied that today.

Here’s a peek into my personal paradise.

The Glory of Gardening

This ancient azalea bush, transplanted from Greg’s parents’ house in Arkansas, was budding when the cold touched it. Those early buds shriveled up. I am so grateful it survived. It’s putting on a spectacular show now.

The Glory of Gardening

The beauty of using annuals in the containers is that I can totally change the look of the garden each year. I opted for lots of color this season, focusing primarily on yellows, oranges and pinks. It feels very celebratory, an acknowledgment of perseverance.

The Glory of Gardening

All the containers were filled. I used zinnias, snapdragons, portulaca, and vinca. The potted plants on the metal shelf beneath the workshop window were moved to the rusty wire basket across the yard, where they will receive less sunlight. Potted vincas took their place.

The Glory of Gardening

The hostas are huge this year and filling in nicely. I used colorful flowers in the meditation area for the first time, instead of white blooms. And the southern border looks amazing. It will be a sea of purples, pinks and yellows soon.

The Glory of Gardening

For five years, I’ve used an old picnic table, made by Grandpa Moore in the early 60s, as a potting table. It has served me well, although the height was a bit low for me. To ease my back, I’d end up sitting on one of the attached benches as I worked.

Today, Greg finished a special project for me. He made me a potting bench, cleverly repurposing wooden pallets that he’s saved. I love it! Although Greg kept apologizing that the potting bench wasn’t fancy, I think it is absolutely perfect for my needs. And I appreciate that he recycled materials that he had, rather than purchasing new boards.

The Glory of Gardening

The potting bench looks adorable, with my hand tools hanging conveniently across the top. I now have a place to display two vintage water sprinklers that are so cool looking. I’ve yet to try them out in the garden, but I will!

I am grateful for Greg’s generosity. He has contributed greatly to the backyard garden. In doing so, he has been a supporter of my dreams and vision for this sanctuary.

The Glory of Gardening

I completed all that I set out to do today. I have a whole flat of flowers left over, that will go into various containers that are currently tucked away. In the meantime, those bright blooms have the perfect resting place on my new bench.

English poet Alfred Austin wrote, “The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.”

I experienced all of those nurturing things today, and by the end of the afternoon I was a sweaty, dirty, happy mess. It was glorious, indeed.

The Glory of Gardening

Surrender 115: Playing with Colors

This spring day was gorgeous…warm, but with a cooling breeze, sunny, but with occasional cloudiness. It was the perfect weather for spending the day outdoors, working in the garden. I say working, because I accomplished so much. However, playing would be the more appropriate word, playing with colors and containers. 


Three gardening projects drew my focus. 

I planted most of my containers today, 27 of them. I have seven more to plant tomorrow, but I’m very happy with today’s results. My Aunt Annie’s old red box received its summer update, with flower pots filled with begonias and coleas. More begonias fill containers next to the box. The shallow bowl was another treasure from my aunt’s house, pressed into service holding flowers. 


The yellow baker’s rack was filled with a variety of colorful containers and equally colorful flowers and plants. I saw a quote once that said that gardening is an art that uses flowers and plants as paint, and that’s my experience. I focus on creating pleasing arrangements that balance color, look whimsical and have touches of surprise. 


Pleased with the finished front porch, I filled containers in the backyard garden…


…and turned my attention to the second project, planting perennials that my friend Beth gave me from her garden. I love how gardeners are so willing to share, both knowledge and plants. I visited Beth and viewed her charming garden, and left with native phlox and Becky shasta daisies. I hope to return the favor by giving my friend plants from my garden that she doesn’t have. These new plants were tucked into the ground, successfully filling a couple of bare spots in my southern border. 


Before completing project three, I considered how I could use several objects in my garden. Every container has possibilities, and my imagination fired with ideas for two vintage cone colanders that once belonged to my aunt…


…and a minnow bucket that Greg brought to me from a friend’s yard sale. Plants will go into the colanders and the solid bucket. The interior of the minnow bucket will make a whimsical candle holder. More on these projects later!



Finally, I completely redid a section of the garden. I had a great idea for the space just inside the Peace Gate, as shown in the picture above from 2014. I still like the way it looked. However, in reality the idea wasn’t practical and didn’t work. When it rains, water comes under the fence and floods the area, creating a little river that follows the path. I can’t keep mulch in the area, as the water carries it away and deposits it around the corner. 


Janet Kilburn Phillips says, “There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.”  I acknowledged that this experiment failed. Time for a fresh idea. With Greg’s help, five slabs of concrete, left over from a demolished sidewalk, were repurposed to create stepping stones. Forgoing mulch, I am filling in the area with ground cover. 


I’m very pleased that I’m partially accomplishing this task by using creeping phlox from the garden of Greg’s mother. Leta had a beautiful phlox garden. Although it’s been at least 20 years since that garden has been tended, the phlox returns every spring. This weekend I dug up the creeping phlox and brought it home. This  re-created space is currently muddy and raw looking, and I’m going to love it. 

What an incredibly lovely day, engaging in one of my favorite activities. I’m tired, and wind blown, and extremely thrilled with today’s creative playtime. Oscar de la Renta is the person who said, “Gardening is how I relax. It’s another form of creating and playing with colors.” I totally agree!