Hey there summer gardeners!

Now that August has arrived in the lower mainland, the time has come to start enjoying the fruits (and veggies!) of your labour, because now is the time when all your garden preparation from the past months is REALLY starting to pay off! At this time of year, there is plenty that can be harvested from the garden. Some of our favorites here at the learning garden this season have been:

  • Sugar snap peas
  • Green pole beans
  • Curly leaf kale
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Peppers
  • Cucamelons

Now with all this bountiful harvest in front of you, it might be easy to grow complacent, but know that there are still things you should be watching for in the garden! Here is a short list of things to watch out for at this time of year:

  1. It may seem obvious to some, but now that some hot weather has arrived, be sure that your plants stay adequately watered. Plants that produce in high volumes at this time of year, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, zuchinni, etc. will need a lot of water to support their continued production. Try to ensure that the soil stays evenly moist, only watering when the soil feels dry to the touch 1-2 inches beneath the surface. Try to ensure that only the surface of the soil gets watered, and not the foliage, as excess moisture can invite the spread of common garden fungus such as powdery mildew. Finally, the ideal time of day to be watering is in the morning, as the heat from the day will allow any excess moisture to dry off.

 

  1. Nutrient deficiency. As you veggie garden grows larger and larger, the nutrient in your soil required by the plants to remain healthy and productive may become deficient. This can manifest itself in a number of ways, but the most common include:
  • Discoloration of the foliage, often with very distinct patterning, depending on the deficiency
  • Stunted or slowed growth
  • Poor flowering and fruiting

Look for signs of discoloration on your vegetable leaves. Discoloration like this is usually a sign of a nutrient deficiency such as Magnesium.

Now many vegetables can suffer from nutrient deficiency, but the most likely culprits include, again, those that are producing in large quantities at this time of year. The classic example of this is the tomato, as tomatoes tend to be very heavy feeders. This means that a steady supply of the three major plant nutrients, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK), through the application of a tomato and vegetable fertilizer is important to keep your tomato happy.

In addition, tomatoes can quite commonly suffer other deficiencies, such as calcium and magnesium like in the image above. If you think this is the case with your tomato, the deficiency can be corrected through the application of products such as MagiCal, which contain concentrations of micronutrients needed to keep your tomato producing all summer long.

With all the production coming from your garden at this time of year, don’t be surprised if you’re not the only one enjoying your crops. It is very common to see different pests at this time of year, many of which, if left unchecked, could quickly spread and spoil your harvest. Here in the learning garden, we have been noticing the following pests in our garden:

APHIDS:

  • Ranging in colour from black to brown to green, these small sucking insects are very typical in the garden. Usually found on the underside of foliage, along veins and stems, these soft-bodied bugs will suck nutrient from your plants, and if left to their own devices, can quickly spread to encompass entire portions of the garden. Be on the look out for leaves that are curling inwards, as this is a tell tale sign that the underside of the leaf has been infested with aphids.

Remedies for aphid problems include spraying with a hose to dislodge the bugs, releasing ladybugs (a natural predator of aphids) or treating with a contact insecticide, such as Safer’s soap. It is important to stay vigilant and stop the spread of aphids before the population gets too large, as they can quickly get out of control if you let them.

Ladybugs are natural predators of many garden pests such as Aphids. releasing them on affected plants can help control the problem. You can also attract ladybugs to your garden by planting some of their favourite plants like Marigolds (this just takes longer)

 SLUGS & SNAILS:

  • Here in the learning garden, we have a fair amount of slug and snail damage, especially for this time of year. Typically, these pests will hide from the intense sun during they day, and only emerge to feed when it is cool in the evening or mornings. Slugs will travel up the sides of containers, along the top of the soil, or from plant to plant, feeding on foliage from the outer edge inwards. To help control slug problems, you can employ various methods, such as copper barriers, slug saloons, or slug and snail bait.

Written by: Alex Johnson & Anastasia Petrou

 

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