By Michael Jenkins
Across North America, many gardeners are dealing with record high temperatures and the challenges that come with them. As the thermometer delivers scary numbers and we all sweat and sizzle in the heat, many of us are struggling to keep our gardens thriving. Here at Gardzen we’re going through the same thing, so today we’re offering some tips, tricks, and guidelines for gardening in hot weather and how to deal with some of the issues caused by extreme temperatures.
The first consideration in preparing your garden for hot weather is prior planning. Check the almanacs, the long-term forecasts, and other meteorological resources to get some sense of what the coming summer will bring. If you’re expecting above-average temperatures, planting heat-tolerant plants and varietals can take the edge off the oppressive temperatures to come. A good seed supplier can steer you towards what you need, and you might be surprised at the number of veggie and flower varietals that can be grown in extreme heat. As with selection of plants, the layout of your garden may need to change a bit to adjust for extreme heat. Providing your plants with some shade during the hottest part of the day, keeping containers or beds for vining plants in the shade in order to conserve moisture, and placing containers close together so the plants provide shade to each other may all help.
If you’re running into unexpected extreme heat, there are still some steps you can take to protect your plants. Setting up some shade over your beds or containers for the hottest part of the day can go a long way towards protecting your plants from the sun. This can be as simple as rigging up a tarp or a beach umbrella high enough over them to both block the sun and allow for air flow so heat doesn’t build up under it. Likewise, some extra deep mulching around your plants, be they in either beds or containers, can conserve moisture in the soil and keep the soil temperature down. These steps also help your plants say relatively cool and protect them from the heat and the sun.
Dark colored containers absorb and hold heat from the sun. You can help keep your soil cool and moist by providing shade to your containers, painting them a lighter color, or just providing a shield from direct sun. A large piece of cardboard, leaning against the container and protecting it from the sun, can do the trick.
The final tool for helping your plants deal with extreme heat is appropriate watering. While we’ve blogged about watering your garden before, there are a few things to consider when watering in extreme weather. It may sound obvious, but in extreme heat your garden will need more water. Not only will you need to provide more water, but you’ll need to do so at the right time and in the right way. The best time to water is early in the morning, preferably before the sun is fully up, and the best way to water is with a long, deep soak. Take your time, and really make sure that your soil soaks up the water it needs. You may want to water again in the evening, but follow the same guidelines—a long slow soak after the sun is low in the sky.
And while we’re talking about protecting your plants, let’s talk about protecting you from the heat. Like your plants, you’ll need to drink enough water, and drink it regularly, when doing outside work. Loose, light clothing and a wide-brimmed hat can protect from the sun. Don’t forget sunscreen! Gardening in the heat is doable, but take the appropriate steps to keep yourself safe as well.
We know it’s hot but we hope the heat doesn’t keep you out of your garden. Just take care to protect your plants (and yourself) from the sun and you can still have a successful garden season even when it’s unusually hot outside.