During the dog days of summer, when it’s oppressively hot, you and your plants need some TLC. It only takes a few hours for the sun’s rays to damage your plants beyond repair. Here are some quick and easy tips and tricks to help make what’s left of summer gardening more beneficial for your plants and more bearable for yourself.
- Watering. Depending on what region you live in, you may be experiencing drought. If so, and if you are dealing with water restrictions, you will need to be thoughtful with the day(s) and time(s) you water. If you can, water your plants deeply and early in the morning. If you have drip irrigation, great! If not, you may want to invest in soaker hoses. And if you live in an area where it may be raining every now and then, a rain barrel is a great way to water your vegetables and reduce your water bills.
- Feeding your plants. Because many vegetables begin to fruit in hot weather it’s important that you continue to provide them with nutrients. One easy way to do this is by side-dressing your plants with compost.
- Taking note of your plants. When the heat is on, plants will show signs of distress. Look for browning and/or wilted leaves and little to no flowering. You may be able to save your plants for successful harvesting. Make sure to mulch 3 to 4 inches to help conserve water, and when watering, give your plants a good, deep soak. Mulching also cools the soil temperature by shielding it from direct sunlight.
- Shade. If your plants are showing signs of excessive heat stress, you should provide them with shade during the hottest part of the day, generally between 11am and 3pm. You can purchase shading material at your local garden center or you can construct a shade barrier using old bed sheets and poles.
- You. Summer’s heat can be brutal and dangerous so it’s important that you protect yourself when you’re tending to your garden during the day. Using sun block and wearing a wide brimmed hat, loose fitting pants and a light-colored long-sleeved shirt or tee shirt will help reduce skin damage due to the sun’s powerful rays. And make sure to have plenty of water with you if you’ll be working in the garden for any length of time. If you can, pull weeds and clean the garden in the evening.
August is one of the cruelest months for plants, but with care and caution you can continue to enjoy bountiful summer harvests.