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How Garden Maintenance Can Help Your Garden Survive The Summer

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Waiting to pick your tomatoes for five days after they ripen will produce the best flavor but also gives critters ample opportunity to snag a bite.

Summer is in full swing and many of us are seeing exponential growth in our gardens. Although much of the planting is over for this year, we’re finally seeing the fruits of our labors — both literally and figuratively.

Melinda Myers is an expert in all things gardening and she joins Lake Effect every month. This month, she focuses on garden maintenance and plant management. 

As the July heat waves hit, it’s important to make sure that blooming plants are getting the right amount of water. Weeding can be an important step, Myers says, “pulling those weeds, getting them out because they compete for water nutrients with your good plants.”

Weeds aren’t the only pests that need to be dealt with in thriving gardens. Slugs may be making an appearance in your garden after a downpour. She says slugs usually come after hostas and tomato plants. Luckily, there is a simple solution.

“A shallow container with some stale beer, you want stale, you don’t want to waste the good stuff, sink it in the ground and the slugs will crawl inside,” she says.

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If your plants develop holes like this cabbage, slugs are most likely the culprit.

As fruits and vegetables start to ripen, you need to decide when to pick them. When it comes to tomatoes, for example, she says leaving them for five days after they ripen will give them the best taste, but this could lead to squirrels and chipmunks getting to them before you do.

A vegetable like zucchini should be picked at 6 inches to 8 inches around if you want to eat them.  If they get too big, they’ll have to be used for baking.

“When they get to be baseball bat-sized, you’re really stuck with baking with them or making them into something, cause the seeds are big, the skins are hard. And you know, one baseball bat-size zucchini can make a lot of loaves of zucchini bread,” says Myers.

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Joy Powers joined WUWM January 2016 as producer for Lake Effect. Most recently, she was a director and producer for The Afternoon Shift, on WBEZ-fm, Chicago Public Radio.
Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine.
Jack Hurbanis started as the WUWM Digital Intern in January 2020, transitioning to Assistant Digital Producer in July.