Five Gardening Tips for Illinois

You might have noticed that spring didn’t last long at all this year. The daffodils, tulips and flowering crabapple trees didn’t get the usual time to flower and be adored. We hit 90 F in the first half of May already.

This year we will need to pivot a little bit and keep an eye on the outdoor temps a little more closely. Monitor the weather for the next few days every couple days so that you are prepared.

Five Gardening Tips for Illinois

If our short and brief spring is any indication then this summer is going to be a hot one. Here are a few garden tips to get your garden off on the right foot.

Water Deeply

One of the biggest dangers to your plants is lack of water. Start watering your plants now and water slowly and deeply. This will encourage roots to grow downwards and become strong and establish themselves before the heat really kicks in.

If you water lightly and only get water into the top few inches of soil, then the roots will stay short looking for water near the soil surface. This is not ideal.

We want the soil to be well watered and be slightly damp to the touch. We do not want standing water or soggy soil! We also don’t want it to dry out. Soggy and overly dry are both stressful for your plants.

Watering Early in the Day

Early morning is an ideal time to water your garden. The plants and soil have not heated up from the intense sunlight. Imagine you are boiling hot from the hot weather and someone dumps really cold water over you. That is kind of how your plants will feel if you water in the middle of the day when temperatures are high. You don’t want to shock your plants! You will also be protecting your skin and self from the sun’s bright rays during the day. You also won’t have to worry about how much water is evaporating instead of going to the roots of your plants when you water in the early morning. Also there is less chance of you getting dehydrated earlier in the day.

Use Shade Cloth

You may not have used shade cloth before but it can be purchased inexpensively online or at garden stores. When you see the weather is going to be a scorcher, protect or shade your plants with this shade cloth. This can be used and reused for many years. Try to have bamboo sticks or hoops in your beds and drape the shade cloth over those structures. Try not to drape it directly on the plants. Tomatoes, squash, beans and peppers love the heat. But when temps are above 90 F they are not very happy and this shade cloth will give them a break and some protection.

Plant Densely or Intensively

I like to pack in the plants and have more production and less weeds. Who wants more weeds and less production?? Nobody I know.

When you have less exposed soil, weed seeds have less chance to thrive. I call “bare soil is bad soil” meaning let’s try to cover it up with seeds or seedlings. When you have bare soil erosion happens. Unwanted seeds and plants show up. The soil dries out and becomes lifeless. If I see an empty space in the garden, I add a few seeds or a small plant that I love or want to try. Planting flowers is a great way to add color and invite beneficial pollinators to your garden and use those bare patches.

Look for plants that will benefit from the shade created by taller plants. Like a tall tomato plant creates shade under it and basil would love to grow there! Dill can be planted in the space in and around your cucumber plants. These are companion plants which means they work well together.

Feed Your Soil

The nutrients in your garden soil deplete over time and need to be replenished. This can be easily done by adding a high quality compost blend and building up a 2-3 inch layer above your current garden soil. Use a hand rake or pitch fork and lightly work it in to the top few layers of soil and water it in. If you are using a raised bed this is fairly easy and inexpensive. If you are growing in ground you may need a little more compost but adding some compost is better than adding none. Also, add worm castings and some organic granular fertilizer that release nutrients slowly over time.

Now is the time to Book A Consult by pressing the button below. Please share this newsletter with friends and family who may be interested in gardening. We are scheduling in person and virtual consults to get you started on your gardening journey. 

We hope you find these tips helpful and thrive personally and in the garden this year. Use your sunscreen, take breaks and stay hydrated. I also have been known to enjoy garden selfies. Feel free to share your garden pictures via email or send them to me on instagram @culinarygardensco.

Wishing you a bountiful harvest from your garden and much garden fun! 

Happy Planting!!

Five Gardening Tips for Illinois
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