If you are an avid gardener, you would have already drawn up plans to be summer-ready. As the days turn hotter, there is nothing more exhilarating than spending a hot afternoon, elbow deep in mud, planting something. It will surely spread cheer during the sultry days ahead.
On one end, you need to plant all the summer beauties along with bountiful vegetables and start a herb garden while on the other end, you don’t want to be an eco-terrorist by pouring copious amounts of water over your plants. You can still prepare your garden space for the summer delights and be a mindful gardener by following a few important tips.
1) Plan your garden
Whenever I visit a nursery, I get completely confused. Not because I do not know my plants but because there are so many of them that I want to buy them all. However, that would be a waste of money and effort. As you may know, summer is not pleasant and bountiful for all plants. It is therefore imperative that you choose plants that are specifically summer-born.
If you are looking at flowers for your garden, you want a show of colour. Marigolds, roses, lilies, zinnias, petunias are some flowers that would bloom quite beautifully during the season. If you have enough space and are looking for drama, you can also go for lotus and sunflowers.
As succulents need less water and are happy to be left alone, they are one of the best species to have for summer gardens. You can also add snake plants, jade, kalanchoes to your list.
Similarly, if you wish to develop a kitchen garden, brinjals, cucumbers, white onions, pumpkins, spinach, okra, etc are specific to the hot summers. Herbs like basil, pudina, carom, fennel, cilantro, lemongrass, and even leaves of lime are some of the best to put in your list of summer selections.
2) Weed out and exterminate pests
Spring in India sometimes brings a light shower of rain. This may have led your garden to be overrun with weeds. Once you have decided on the list of your plants, you need to start prepping your garden for planting. The first step here is to pull out weeds and dead seasonals.
Seasonal plants which flowered and are now just stubs need to be removed. They are not going to flower till next year and will only take up space, nutrients, and water. It would be ideal to trim them down to the soil as they would still survive under the soil to grow as the season changes.
Weeding is particularly essential as weeds tend to drain your soil off of water and nutrients meant for your plants. Make sure that you pull out the weeds root and all so that they are not able to regrow. Digging and mixing up the soil can also do the trip. It will jostle the earth to bring to the top nutrient-rich dark soil from deep beneath.
Rains would have also ensured that pests have made your garden their home. If you plant your new plants in this situation, they would be destroyed within hours. Ensure that your garden is pest-free before you start planting. Use an organic garden pest control agent to spray over your soil and garden beds after weeding.
3) Prep the soil
If your garden space has already undergone a planting session for winter and spring, chances are that the nutrients in the soil are already depleted. In such a scenario, it would be a good idea to enrich your soil. Simply put, organically rich soil is usually dark brown or black in colour. If your soil is not like this, you need to add some good compost to it.
If you make organic compost at home, this would be a great time to add it to your soil. You can also buy compost and soil nutrients from the market and add them to your soil. Spread the compost 10-15 cm onto your soil and dig and mix with your soil so that it goes deep inside.
Water the soil regularly for three days so that the nutrients and compost reach deep into the soil. You should not water in a manner that the compost is washed away. Use water can or spray hose to wet the soil, more than flood it.
4) Watering and shading
If you have an open garden that receives more than enough sunshine, you can protect your plants and save some water by building a shade. Blue coloured or brown coloured shades made of polyester would be great for Indian summers. These would ensure that the plants get enough sunlight and are able to thrive as well.
In many cities across India, summers mean water shortages. Not only do people look down on you for ‘watering your plants’ but also you may find it difficult to water your garden on a daily basis. Irrigation techniques like sprinklers, rain barrels, seep hoses, or even hacks like using a water bottle poked with holes or a soaked cloth kept under a plant can work wonders during summers. Adding embellishments like a birdbath or hanging planters or a butterfly garden would also give a great look.
The good thing about gardening is that once you get planting, you will understand on your own what would ensure that your garden is set the best way. Soil needs, water needs, nutrients, etc can all be understood by simply doing and learning. The important thing is that you are ready to work at it. Happy Gardening!