By the middle of July I want time to slow down. The mid-point of Minnesota summer and for as much as I talk about enjoying our change of seasons I just want summer to go on a whole lot longer.
There's sort of less to do in the garden but more to do. I guess that just makes it different things to do. All the vegetables and flowers are in the ground. The mulch has been top-coated. The heat and sunshine are exactly what the plants thrive on which translates into lots of this: water, weed, water, fertilize, weed, water some more.
Let's talk fertilizer. It makes a difference.
The plants are working overtime to produce fruit or vegetables or flowers; they need a boost. Finding the perfect fertilizer is probably less important than just getting something applied.
Water soluble powder fertilizer comes in a box or jug. It is typically a good value because you have to do the mixing with water (more labor = less cost). It also comes pre-mixed where you connect the applicator to the hose and spray the fertilizer - this option is a bit more expensive. With the water solubles, I recommend products based on how many plants you need to fertilize.
- Plants mostly in containers and not too far from the water source (i.e. the kitchen sink faucet, garden hose) --> use the powder, measure it out, mix in the watering can and apply.
- Lots of plants or area to cover --> use the pre-mixed products.
Slow release fertilizers are even easier than water soluble options. They can be mixed into the dirt at planting time or sprinkled on the soil anytime.
I'm a fan of slow release fertilizer. I shake the granules on top of the soil (not the leaves) and then water as usual. It's simple.
If you want the healthiest plants possible with the best yield of fruit, vegetables or flowers get out there and give them the boost of nitrogen, phosphate, potassium and stuff they need. It's worth the half hour.
Sure, you can go buy seven different products specifically formulated for different types of plants if you want to but it's not essential for most gardens. Use what you have sitting on the garage shelf or buy a good all-purpose fertilizer.
Apply fertilizer every few weeks. More or less.
Some other things you can do to keep everything in great shape:
- Keep roots consistently watered. Not too much. Not too little.
- Lift your pots. If the pot feels light, the plant really needs a good drink of water. If the pot feels heavy, then leave it be for a while.
- Manage the weeds. Mulch is excellent for keeping weeds away, plus keeping moisture in the ground and roots cooler. I'm not gonna mislead you.....weeds will still happen but with mulch down and some weeding by hand it's a good combination.
- Divide your plants and share with others. Preferably on a nice comfortable day when you feel like digging and the plant won't get stressed in extreme heat.
- Remove spent blooms (aka deadheading so the energy goes toward new growth).