KENT PETTERSON columnist
This is the most satisfying and productive time of the gardening year, and maybe its most challenging. By that I mean the flowers are blooming and the veggie harvest is really getting going.
It is also the time when bugs that bite and the heat of the outdoors, and less rain are usually at the most bothersome.
Let’s take the bugs first. Is your Covid mask going to help? Probably not. I would hope for social distancing and the lovely solitary environment that we can find in the garden. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) can help you manage insects. Check it out to see if it might work for you. My preference is to be tolerant of the insects you find. In most cases you will be rewarded with their pollinating activities and not bitten.
So far, the heat factor has been wonderful. Much better than last year, when it was wet and cool early. Gardens are popping with growth and it is the sun that does it. My strategy is to start in the early morning before work or your day starts. Keeping the weeds under control is probably the most frustrating work this time of year. If you can find a half-hour most days to work with the hoe and add mulch if you have it, you will stay off the cliff of giving up and hoping for better next year.
Leaves and grass clippings are good mulches. They also help to keep the soil cooler and you out of the garden during those hottest of days. Bare soil is ok to some degree. It definitely is friendly to ground bees that need bare undisturbed soil for their nesting sites. These are tiny guys that won’t bother you. Unless you look closely, you may not see them as they do their good work of pollination.
When it starts to get dry, be sure to water at least once a week for plants that need it. Vegetables fall into this category. Watering deeply and less often is best. Fortunately, the best time to water is in the morning when you also can be cooler. This is primarily due to the drying effect the day has on the watered foliage. Wet foliage is more apt to encourage leaf diseases if left wet overnight. Enjoy!