5 Tips for an Enchanting Summer Garden
Being in nature is one of the most healing and inspirational gifts we can give ourselves. If you are fortunate enough to have a garden, you have an opportunity to create a magical and healing place that will lure you into spending time there. You may want to create a shade structure and plant it with fragrant vines, add a swing and other whimsical objects. (See my article Feng Shui for an Inspiring Garden.)
If you don’t have a garden, join or create a community garden like my sister did, and enjoy the added benefits of creatively collaborating with like-minded people and bring home your own fresh bounty!
I interviewed my sister Bridget Brewer, Sausalito, CA Landscape Designer and Architect, about tips she would recommend for the mid-summer garden. Here are some of her recommendations. Be sure to check your local climate zone information to be sure what is best for your area.
1. What to Plant Now
In June and early July, plant beans and summer squash from seed. In the next two to three months plant cool-season vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, chard, lettuce, spinach, potatoes and onions.
In terms of flowers, look around your garden and notice what colors or fragrance you feel are missing. It is hard to resist buying plants in full bloom, but if you can wait until next spring and plant younger plants, they will hit the ground running and out-bloom and out-perform almost anything you plant now. It is fine, however, to add color to your garden pots and borders with smaller colorful annuals such as petunias and lobelia.
2. Fertilize and Water
This is the month to focus on keeping everything well fed and watered.
Feed by using organic fertilizers and top dress with good compost with micronutrients. Keep the ground covered. Soil builds from the top down, you are keeping the worms and micronutrients in the soil happy by covering it.
3. Slow Down Weeds Organically
Weeds grow fast during the hot months of summer and plants dry out quickly. To slow down your weeds, enrich the soil and keep it moist at the same time, apply a thick layer (2 to 3 inches) of compost and/or straw around the plants. Leave a small gap for air circulation around the stem or crown.
Tired of mowing and watering a greedy lawn? Make a “lasagna mulch” right on top without having to dig out the lawn. In 8 to 10 months the lawn, weeds, cardboard and mulch will be a rich healthy soil ready for planting. The steps are: 1) mow or cut down the weeds, but leave them in place and add more green mulch (grass clippings, green leaves and stems) until it is 2 to 3 inches thick; 2) Add cardboard sheets (avoid white cardboard as it has bleach) overlapping the edges by 6 inches. Wet down the cardboard thoroughly; 3) Cover the cardboard with arbor mulch (tree chippings).
4. Build an Outdoor Kitchen
A wonderful way to encourage friends and family to spend time in the garden is to build a little summer kitchen with a grill, a sink and counter space for preparation. Place your table and chairs in the garden, pretend you are French and eat all of your meals outside!
Pick the vegetables for a summer salad and stir-fry and take them directly from the garden to the pot. Eating fresh vegetables and herbs within 30 minutes of picking is an entirely different taste experience you will truly never forget.
My sister has a fabulous community garden she tends and always has the most wonderful summer salads. She is always the designated salad bringer to our potluck gatherings. Here are some of the fresh ingredients she grows and adds to her fresh and amazing salad concoctions:
Use varieties of lettuce, arugula, broccoli florets, raw grated beets, parsley, spinach, nasturtiums, calendula and borage flowers, chervil, grated carrots, cilantro, sweet basil and fresh herbs. Add a fresh avocado and fresh strawberries or other berries in season. Toss together with my favorite dressing of seasoned rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp of Dijon mustard, a lighter olive oil, salt and pepper or substitute fresh organic lemon juice for the vinegar. Enjoy!
One of the most wonderful benefits of having a garden is that you get to spend time experiencing healing properties of connecting to the natural world. As we tune in to our garden, our bodies seem to come into balance with the natural rhythms of the earth. Your plants will begin to communicate with you and you will intuit what they need.
A wonderful book I read recently, called Earthing, talks about how spending just 30 minutes a day sitting or walking on the earth, called “grounding,” is scientifically proven to discharge inflammation, pain and stress. It is simple and free. All you have to do is place your bare feet directly on the earth! (See my article Healing Benefits of Walking Barefoot)
I hope you will enjoy this magical time of mid-summer and walk barefoot in your summer garden!
Please tell us about your garden experiences and share your tips with us!
Bridget Brewer can be reached at www.brewerstudioarchitects.com. Top Picture is my sister’s wonderful California Native Garden.
Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? by Clinton Ober, Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D. and Martin Zucker at: www.earthing.com
Erica Sofrina is an International Speaker, teacher and author of the book Small Changes, Dynamic Results! Feng Shui for the Western World.