We’ve had some hot days lately, and with more heat in the forecast, we need to keep our edible gardens healthy. Here are three do’s and three don’ts for helping your vegetables thrive despite the high temperatures.
- Know how and when to water. Water either early in the morning or in the early evening–at sunrise or before sunset–as this allows plants to take in moisture when the sun isn’t evaporating it from the soil. Consider automatic drip irrigation, which will:
deliver consistent moisture to plants;
save you some effort since your plants will never be waiting for you to come home to water them;
lose less water to wind or evaporation because it puts the water directly at the root zone; and
reduce runoff, thus saving water and money.
- Hold on to the water you’ve applied by adding mulch. While there are many varieties of mulch, the purpose is the same: to hold moisture in the soil so it doesn’t evaporate and to help control weeds. We don’t want weeds sucking up the water from the tomatoes! Natural mulches like bark and straw help keep roots cool, too.
- Provide shade. Vegetables do best planted in full sun. But at high temps, sunshine becomes too much of a good thing. Use pieces of shade cloth (available at the garden center) and stakes to create a temporary shade structure over plants. It allows light in while keeping plants underneath shaded.
- Fertilize edibles during a heat wave. Dry plants can take up too much fertilizer which can cause leaves to burn and even die.
- Re-pot or transplant as this adds more stress. Transplant when temperatures are cooler.
- Prune wilted growth. Allow it provide shade to leaves below. If wilted growth needs trimming, let the plant recover from heat stress and prune on a cooler day.