Tips for Preparing Your Garden for the Portland Summer

Ongoing Garden Maintenance in the Portland Summer

Now that summer is finally upon us and July is in full swing, you may be wondering what, if anything, you can do to keep your garden looking its best as we approach the dog days of August and early September. Or you may be coming to the table late, wondering if it’s too late to get in the game this year.

There is good news for both scenarios, as there are many things you can do to keep your garden looking good through these long summer days. Further, it’s not too late, even at the end of July, to get a small garden going in your PDX yard.

June Is Perfect for Planting, But It’s Never Too Late

Here in the Portland, June typically offers ideal planting conditions for a wide array of new additions to your garden or yard. But as July comes into full swing and we get closer to August, it may seem like it’s too late to get started. It’s not.

The soil becomes easier to dig as the summer progresses, and sunny days can really help new plantings to get going fast enough that you can reap something before fall sets in. Be sure to visit your local nursery and get some help picking out plants that will take hold fast and thrive in the remaining weeks of summer.  

A Mid-Summer Night’s Pest Control Guide

As summer gets into full swing, many garden pests that make their presence known begin working in shifts, trying to get the most out of your garden while you sleep. Here in Portland, we have to contend with a whole lineup of unsavory characters including aphids, flea beetles, cutworms, thrips, and whiteflies.

If you’re noticing pest damage in your garden, do some research to diagnose the problem and take whatever action is required to correct it. For example, releasing a certain breed of parasitic wasp can combat leafminers, and submerging little cups of beer around the garden can kill slugs; ladybug larvae love to eat aphids.

You can also combat pests by getting into companion planting. A quick search on the net, or trip to your local nursery can arm you with a variety of tactics to fight exactly what’s attacking your garden while you’re soundly sleeping at night.

This Summer, Be Sure to Water When Necessary

One of the nice things about Portland weather is that for much of the year, watering isn’t a concern at all. But as we move into late summer and the weather turns hotter and drier, keeping your garden adequately watered becomes a greater concern. For best results, water in the early morning hours or in the evening, when the sun won’t evaporate the water away before it can reach the roots of your plants. Remember that evening watering CAN increase the damage that slugs will do to your plants.

Be careful not to overdo it when it comes to watering. When you leave too much standing water around, you can inadvertently create an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. For better watering results, consider purchasing a soaker hose, or try adding a layer of mulch to prevent evaporation.

Keep an Eye Out for Invasive Species

With a few notable exceptions, just about anything will grow in Portland. Because of this, you could very well end finding a few unwelcome species in your garden. Japanese knotweed may be edible, but it can be a real pain to get rid of. And there’s nothing heavenly about so-called “Trees of Heaven.” Do your best to nip these invaders in the bud before they get out of control.

Portland Gardeners: Start Composting

If you’re not already composting, then it’s high time you started. Homemade compost can really give your garden some extra oomph, and it doesn’t cost a cent. Just make sure your compost bin is designed to keep scavenging pests away, because you don’t want to attract rats into the yard or home.

There are a wide variety of compost bins available for purchase, or you can build your own for very little money by downloading plans off of the Internet and using repurposed materials.

The Sun Is Here, Portland!

Summer in Portland is gorgeous, and it’s a welcome break from those long months of clouds, rain, and gray skies. Gardening can be a great way to get back in touch with the dirt, your home, exercise, and to have something concrete to show for your efforts. It’s not too late to get started, so get your hands in the dirt!

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