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How to Prepare Your Garden for Summer

Read this checklist of things to do in the garden to make sure your plants are happy and healthy all summer long.

Collage of a man outside, working in his vegetable garden

1. Prepare your soil

Depending on where you live, water may have compacted your garden soil over the winter. Use a spading fork to turn the soil, then even it out with a rake. Good soil is the key to happy plants, and this is the time of year to amend your garden soil. To know what to add – compost, fertilizer, peat moss, vermiculite, or other materials – test your soil using a home test kit.

2. Set up plant supports

For vegetables that are happier growing up than out (think tomatoes and beans), make sure they have proper supports and enough room to spread out – and that they don’t crowd your other plants. For real climbers, make sure you have a trellis system; use bamboo or other stakes for plants like peppers, which don’t need to climb, but need to be held up. Tip: Inexpensive Velcro tape can help attach plants and can be removed easily.

3. Sow heat-loving seeds and plants

Stagger your heat tolerant lettuce and spinach seeds every other week so your garden is producing enough for salads all the time. Other heat-lovers include peppers, eggplants, tomatoes and basil. Make sure to weed out plants that have “bolted” – or grown too tall and flowered. Depending on where you live, also plant cold-loving veggies like onions, potatoes, artichokes and squash, so they’re ready when you want them in the fall.

4. Prune what you missed

If you didn’t trim your fruit trees in the winter, prune them now pruning shears before the buds begin to break into bloom. Otherwise, the tree can get stressed and yield little – or no – fruit.

5. Bring out your seedlings

By now, seeds started indoors should be nice young sprouts. Depending on where you live, you might be bringing them out for the first time now. Remember to harden them off. Strong spring sunlight will burn young sprouts and changing temperatures will shock them. Bring them out for just a few hours each day and allow them to stay longer and longer before you transplant them into the garden.

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