By Jillian Steinberger, “The Garden Artisan” Pictured at right with a bee swarm in the Terra Nova Farm Garden
With summer in full swing, gardens are growing strong all over the county! We hope your garden is full of abundance, too. Although we could talk about gardens with you happily all day long, for now we’ve got six tips on how to best support your garden during high summertime. These are all demonstrated at Terra Nova’s Farm Garden, in the Live Oak area of Santa Cruz. If you would like to come by for a visit, please contact us.
#1. Put your garden on the bee & butterfly highway
Give pollinators a fertile place to land. Convert your water-sucking lawn to a colorful drought tolerant landscape–or a food forest bursting with homegrown nutrition. In the picture of Terra Nova’s Farm Garden below, there are some great options for attracting many types of bees and butterflies, as well as ladybugs and other beneficial insects. Some of the plants pictured below are sunflowers, lovage, carrot flowers (daucus), Italian chicory, salvia, zinnea, giant marigolds, and more. This year we are seeing many types of native bees that we have never seen before, and three swarms were visited upon our garden! That’s how we know we’re on the bee & butterfly highway.
#2. Install a simple laundry-to-landscape greywater system
Use your water twice and get double the value. Your shrubs, roses, and fruit trees will love it! It’s safe and legal. There are areas of the Terra Nova Farm Garden that are fed with greywater. They are all thriving. Some of these are abutilons, salvias, a weeping mulberry tree, native plants like elderberry, cleveland sage, desert mallow, gumplant, and ornamental grasses.
#3. Give your garden some organic love
Wash off aphids and mites with the hose–it works, no chemicals required. Deadhead perennials and annuals to encourage further flowering. Improve fertility with compost or certified organic fertilizers. If you notice, say, ladybugs on a plant then–step away for a couple days! You’ll be surprised at how fast they munch on those aphids.
#4. Turn your weedy back 40 into a beautiful & useful garden room
It’s your space. Own it! Did someone say outdoor living room, al fresco dining room, yoga or meditation space, or party central? Or, give your kids their very own Life Lab–and let them design it. Yes, you too can grow melons and spaghetti squash, right here in Santa Cruz.
#5. As always, mulch, mulch, mulch!
It retains soil moisture, improves tilth, feeds beneficial microorganisms, and deters weeds. You can’t go wrong. I have seen gardens before and after mulching, and they ALWAYS look better after mulching. (Maybe that’s because at Terra Nova we do a beautiful job of it, but I digress.) The plants look more turgid and pert and bouncy. That’s what we want! That pert and bouncy look 😉
#6. Stop and smell the roses & other flowers & herbs
Plants and humans have evolved together over eons. To enjoy them is our inheritance! Some wonderful plants that humans and pollinators both enjoy are pictured below. Breathe deep the giant “Day of the Dead” marigold which is said to repel pests. Breathe deep the show-stopping purple Black Adder Agastache, also known as hyssop, which is aromatic and relaxing in your tea. Watch the butterfly get drunk on your cheerful red zinnea, or on Verbena lilacina ‘de la Mina.’ It’s a symphony (or a rock concert). Enjoy! And come for a visit.
In plants we trust,
“The Garden Artisan”
Looking for more tips and help in your garden? Contact Terra Nova Ecological Landscaping today for a free estimate at 831-425-3514 or through our contact page.