|Â JulyÂ 2010
In early July, our family took a 10-day road trip from Colorado to Santa Barbara in California (that is why this is late). We traveled through stunning Colorado and Utah and then across the desolate deserts of Arizona, Nevada and California. As the heat rose to 110F plus, vegetation became increasingly sparse. Very little could grow in that sterilized gritty soil.
When I returned home to an overgrown and overflowing garden, those deserts reminded me of how much we rely on the fertility of our garden soil – and how much we take it for granted. This month I offer some tips on how to care for and nurture the soil life during the stressful summer season.
This weekend, 24th and 25th July, Organic Bountea is represented at the San Francisco Indoor Gardening Expo – the biggest hydroponics show in the country. It is open to the public 10 am – 6 pm on Sunday. If you are nearby, stop by and say hello.
At the show, we will be launching our new Fungal Activator designed to create fungally-dominant Bountea, specially designed for flowering and fruiting plants. It will be available on our website in the next month or so.
On Sunday 1st of August, I have an Open Garden day for friends and local gardeners to come and visit. I better get out there and make sure it looks nice!
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|July Garden Tasks
(July 15th — August 15th)We are deep into the summer season with plants needing protection form the heat and sun.
See the article below for more informationThe main issues are keeping on top of excess growth and maintaining a regular planting schedule. Here is a reminder of the tasks from last month:
- Keep the soil consistently moist with good irrigation and mulch
- Cut grass and pull weeds regularly — add to compost pile
- As you harvest salad greens, remember to sow seeds indoors or outdoors and transplant out every 2 – 3 weeks
- Clear spent plants fast and make as much compost as you can
- Keep pinching out tomato suckers and keep plants cooler than 85F
- Use shade cloth to protect cool-loving seedlings and plants
- Start preparing for Fall harvests by sowing brassicas (kale, cabbage, broccoli, etc), carrots, turnips, etc. See the article, “Sowing Seeds in Summer.”
- Check if any tiny salad potatoes are ready to harvest.
Bountea Compost Tea: Â This is an important time to keep maintaining the microbial life in the soil with regular treatments of Bountea. Â Add M3 if you are preparing soil for more leafy greens. Â Add B3 instead of Â M3 if you want to help your tomatoes and beans set fruit.
|Nurturing Summer Soil
We all know that plants suffer from the heat and drought of summer.Â Have you considered what those same conditions do to the trillions ofÂ microbes and single-celled organisms that create your living soil?Â Worms and larger insects can burrow down into the deeper, cooler layers of the soil to survive.Â Most microbes do not have that luxury; they shrivel and die.
As soil temperature reaches 80F and above, moisture evaporates, air in the soil get stagnant and depleted of oxygen.Â Beneficial microbes die or, at best, become dormant.Â Ultra-violet rays can penetrate the top inch of uncovered soil, effectively sterilizing it.Â Dry, bare soil exposed to the sun decimates uncountable numbers of living organisms.
The rules for nurturing summer soil are exactly what nature recommends:
Keep it moist -Â Keep it covered – Keep it plantedÂ Â Â Â
The practice is similarly simple, if somewhat time consuming:
- Water regularly and deeply.Â Drip irrigation is best and should be left on long enough to penetrate beyond the plant root zones.Â As water moves downwards through the soil, it draws in oxygen and displaces carbon dioxide.
- Mulch continually.Â Compost, grass clippings, leaves, pine needles and other organic mulches are best.Â Cardboard and newspapers are good.Â Use dampened floating row cover over seeds and seedlings.Â Use shade cloth or sacking to moderate heat and light.
- Plant and transplant into all uncovered spaces.Â Radishes, cress andÂ arugula grow fast.Â Annual flowers such as sunflowers brighten up the vegetable patch.Â Cover crops protect and replenish soil life: wheat and barley provide lots of organic matter; buckwheat practically springs out of the ground and gives essential phosphorous for the next crop.
Whenever I see uncovered soil in a summer garden, it makes me uncomfortable.Â It just looks and feels unnatural.Â Hopefully, you too will make that extra effort to take care of your own soil life.Â All those microbes will be grateful and will really reward you for all your loving attention.
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Care for your Plants — Care for your Soil — Care for ourÂ Earth
theÂ BounteaÂ way.