By Melinda Myers
Late Start, Big Finish in the Garden
By Melinda Myers
There is still time to create a beautiful and productive garden this summer, whether starting from scratch or rejuvenating an existing garden.
Many people are starting fresh by elevating their garden beds to overcome landscape challenges, create new beds or simply make harvesting, planting and tending the garden easier.
You can build your own raised bed or purchase one of the kits available at garden centers, garden catalogues and online. Or repurpose bricks, cinder blocks or heat- treated pallets into an elevated planting bed.
Once your raised bed is built, start by preparing a healthy foundation for your plants by filling it with a blended quality topsoil and compost mix like Hsu garden blend (hsugrowingsupply.com). The compost is rich in beneficial microbes that build soil health, while the topsoil provides a reservoir of nutrients and moisture for the plants to grow and thrive.
Or rejuvenate an existing garden bed by amending the soil prior to planting by adding several inches of leaf compost, compost or peat moss to the top 8 to 12 inches of soil.
Once the foundation is set, you are ready to plant. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, melons and squash need full sun and love it warm. So planting now that the air and soil are warm will get them off to a quick start. Interplant these larger transplants with green onions, beets and carrots. By the time the larger plants are filling in the space, you’ll be finished harvesting the smaller vegetables. Train cucumbers and pole beans up a trellis. You’ll save space and elevate the fruit for fewer disease problems and easier picking.
Add a few herbs to the garden. They add flavor to your meals as well as color, texture and fragrance to the garden. Basil, like tomatoes, is another warm weather plant. Planting too early means poor growth and greater risk of disease. So procrastination can sometimes pay off. And a raised bed will help contain vigorous growers like oregano and mint.
Mix in a few flowers with the edibles or give them a garden of their own. Select plants suited to the sunlight and your maintenance schedule. Drought tolerant sun- loving plants like lantana, zinnia and celosia are more forgiving if you tend to underwater. Self-cleaning annuals like calibrachoa, angelonia, gaura and fan flower (Scaevola) do not need deadheading which translates into less maintenance for you.
Then sit back and enjoy the harvest and beauty your new and improved gardens have to offer.
Gardening expert Melinda Myers has written mmore than 20 gardening books, including “Small Space Gardening” and the “Midwest Gardener’s Handbook.” She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything: Food Gardening For Everyone” DVD set and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV and radio segments. Myers is also a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ website is www.melindamyers.com.