Your garden bloomed into color in spring but now as the late summer days begin, you realize the plants don’t look as exuberant as they once did. Lower leaves are turning brown and dropping off. Spider mites are spotting the leaves. There’s less new growth. Those beautiful blooms are wilting in the heat of the afternoon. The fruit is ripening more slowly. Fewer new flower buds appear. The nutrients in the soil are being used up or washed away.
Mature plants need more water. The late summer garden certainly requires more effort, but fear not, all is not lost. You can boost your garden back to life. As late summer and fall arrive, atmospheric humidity declines. This causes soil moisture to evaporate more quickly. Your normal watering routine from June and July just won’t cut it and will need to supplement with regular soakings to support your late summer garden.
One way to supplement your watering is to set a dripping garden hose at the bottom of each plant for a couple of hours. Repeat this every few days. Try creating generous watering basins around the base of each plant. Make them big enough to hold a lot of water directly over the root zone so it may gradually percolate down into the soil. Soaker hoses and sprinklers will also help if left on long enough to penetrate deeper than the top few inches of soil.
As time goes on the nutrients in the soil begin to get used up adding a second helping of fertilizer in August can make a big difference.
Select a fertilizer carefully, too much nitrogen can sacrifice flower production. Rather than using a single form such as manure or compost, fertilizer blends that contain a diverse formula of minerals and nutrients. They are as easy to apply as any larger name brand. They are manufactured locally, so each region of the country will have its own brands. You’ll find them at quality garden centers.
Keep watering and fertilizing your garden through the late summer and you will see your garden spring back to life.