Mulch

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Crops like tomatoes, zucchinis, green beans, eggplants, cucumbers, and sweet potatoes are the ones which can thrive well during summer. For warmer months, here are seven tips to follow to ensure keeping your harvests at their peak:

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Source: Garden Guides

1. Fertilize monthly. 

Using side dressing of compost, make sure to fertilize your crops every month. As always, it’s a good idea to add minerals to the soil. Opting to use kelp or seaweed as fertilizer is also great to add other nutrients.

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watering-plants

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Warmer days are just around the corner. And for sure, as much as possible, we want ourselves to be refreshed as possible. Same goes with our greeneries. We want them hydrated so they can stand the heat of the sun. Thus, watering them most of the time is the ultimate solution. Along with that, comes the possibility of high water bill. So how can we conserve water but still quenching the thirst of our plants? Here are 7 water-conserving tips you might want to follow during this summer:

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Source: Flickr eosdude

1. Do not over-water.

Yep, that’s right. A good rule of thumb for most Americans is that shrubs and perennials should get 1 to 2 inches of water a week, while lawns need only one inch. There’s no actual rule for watering plants but always keep an eye on those plant tags that came along with your plant when you bought them. That will tell you all the requirements needed for the plant to grow well.

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Gardening tools and flowerHere are 7 things you can do to get you busy in your garden, during this warm month of May:

Red tick on the stone

1. Tick-awareness month

As much as we loathe and fear these infesting creatures, how much do you know about them? Well, this is the month to learn about them. Seek advice from a leading disease ecologist, so you can make sure these ticks won’t affect your garden.

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Mulches

Mulching is the best way to get rid of weeds in your garden; it keeps your soil aerated, adds nutrition to your soil, and replenishes the soil. Mulch protects your plants from pests and diseases too.

Leaves

Leaves are a good material for mulch. Shredded leaves can help control weeds from sprouting in your garden. You can use leaves from any deciduous tree. Oak leaves can be used as well because contrary to popular belief, these leaves will not acidify the soil since they lose their acidity as they decompose.

Spread the leaves 2 inches deep, shred or chop them before spreading. Whole leaves are easily blown by the wind.

Avoid mulching with wet leaves when the climate is cold. Cold climate can freeze wet leaves.

Soil under mulch is also rich in helpful organisms like earthworms. Try digging into your mulched soil and you will see a lot of earthworms, these earthworms will turn your mulch into the best fertilizer for you plants.

Pine Needles

Pine needles decompose slowly and water can seep through your mulch easily. They will not change the pH of your soil even if you make a 2 or 3 inches of mulch. The good thing about pine needles is that they smell good and they become attractive as they decompose.

Grass Clippings

Grass clippings are great for your vegetable garden; you can find grass clippings anywhere in your garden. Do not use grass that has been treated with herbicide though. Grass clippings decompose quickly; and they decompose more quickly on very hot weather. Make sure that the grass clippings are dry when you spread them in your mulch. Spread grass clippings 2 inches deep and reapply often. If you applied it too thick, they will mat down and they will become impervious to water.

Plastic

Plastic is the best material for your mulch if you are growing warm weather crops in a cool weather. Plastic helps in heating up the soil when the weather is cold and you can also avoid weeds from sprouting in your garden.

Clear plastics warm the soil quickly but they allow weeds from growing. Black plastic prevents weed-seeds from germinating as it warms the soil.

The disadvantages of using plastic as mulch is that they cost high, require a lot of efforts in piling and removing, they end up in the trash after the season, and they divert water out of the garden beds.

Straw

Straw does not mat like grass and leaves so you have to make a pile of 6 to 8 inches deep. The good thing is that straw breaks down quickly and they add nutrients to the soil. Do not use straw mulch during rainy season, wet straw will rot and they will become a hideout for slugs. Make sure that you buy a straw and not hay. Hay can encourage weeds from sprouting in your garden.

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coffee grounds

Coffee grounds make great soil conditioner and compost additive which is why many gardeners use it in their garden. Coffee grounds have been used for hundreds of years.  They are a good source of nitrogen and they have the same amount of nitrogen as grass clippings.

Some say that the grounds are too acidic to be composted or used directly in the garden. But pH tests done on coffee grounds have shown results from mildly acid to mildly alkaline. Also, the pH level of coffee grounds become neutral as it decomposes.

Here are some ways on how to use coffee grounds on your garden:

Used to deter pests

Coffee grounds can be used as pest deterrent, especially for slugs. Scattering coffee grounds around your plants can help deter slugs, because the grounds scratch their underbellies in an unpleasant way. If you have plants that can attract slugs like Napa Cabbage, you may try scattering coffee grounds around it.

Vermicomposting

Coffee grounds can also be a good help in vermicomposting. In your worm bin, mix coffee grounds with kitchen scraps, banana peel, shredded paper, and cardboard. The worms will love the coffee grounds.

Stop fungal diseases from spreading

Coffee grounds can suppress fungal diseases caused by fungi like Fusarium and Pythium species. Decomposing coffee grounds have their own fungal colonies; these colonies repel other fungal colonies that can destroy your plants. Adding coffee grounds into your compost helps prevent the growth of verticulum and fusarium wilt inoculates. Tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers are at risk to different wilts.

Coffee grounds as side dressings

You can use coffee grounds as side dressings for heavy feeder plants. Coffee grounds are a good source of nitrogen. They have a 20 to 1 ratio of nitrogen to carbon. Pure coffee grounds are a good side-dressing for tomatoes, squash, leafy vegetables, and hungry fruiting vegetables. You can put a handful of coffee grounds into the transplant hole, for these plants. In that way you can avoid fungal diseases from spreading.

Use to make a liquid feeder

Mix a handful of coffee grounds and water into a bucket, leave it for one or two days to create a nice amber-colored liquid. You can feed this to your plants if needed.

Add coffee grounds to your compost

Coffee grounds are excellent additions to your compost pile because they heat up quickly and help turn your organic material into beautiful, dark, rich soil faster. In every 5 kilograms of coffee grounds add two teaspoons of lime.

Sheet mulch

Lay a thin layer of coffee grounds directly as mulch for your plants. Be careful not to make the coffee sheet mulch too thick as your plants may suffer due to the caffeine residues in the uncomposted coffee grounds. Any problem will heal within a couple of months though so there will be no lasting damage. To avoid problems though, just lay about ½ inch layer of coffee grounds atop your regular organic mulch.

Image credit: Jeroen van Oostrom / freedigitalphotos.net