Summer Garden Tips

Early July is a sort of mid-point in the gardening season in the Willamette Valley – the end of harvest for overwinter and spring crop plantings, and the last chance to plant main season summer plantings.  With about 90 frost-free days remaining in the season, there’s plenty of time to plant beets, carrots, bush beans and leaf crops from seed and manage a late summer harvest.  It’s also not too late to make last minute selections of tomato or squash transplants with a reasonable chance of decent yields.

Whether you are squeezing in some new plantings or just enjoying watching all of those April- and May-planted crops develop, it’s time to make sure your garden plants have the nutrition they need.  Fertilize all new plantings thoroughly, and evaluate existing plants to see if they are still showing healthy and robust growth.  Six weeks or more since planting, many fertilizers are beginning to fade, either used by the plants, consumed by soil biology, or simply washing out with irrigation. The 4th of July is an easy date to remember to follow up on your initial feedings – apply a granular vegetable fertilizer to the soil all around the plant or alongside the row and use your fingers to gently incorporate into the top soil layer.  For plants sensitive to calcium deficiencies – tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, melons, and squash – do the same with calcium lime (not dolomite).

It is very important that your crops are developing rapidly right now.   In addition to granular fertilizers, both new plantings and established crops can also benefit from more instantly available liquid fertilizers.  Mix according to label directions and apply both to the soil around the plant and directly to the leaves for a quick boost of nutrients that your plants can use right away.

One of the great joys of vegetable gardening in the Willamette Valley is the opportunity to continue the gardening – and the fresh-from-the-garden produce – through the fall and winter.  But to make the winter gardening magic happen you need to be planting right now, so your crops can attain the size and maturity they need to produce in the slower, colder parts of the year.

See the following chart of planting suggestions for fall harvest, winter harvest, and overwintering for spring harvest crops.