With record temperatures heating up most of the country this summer, gardening is probably one of the last activities we want to think about doing. It's important to keep in mind that during excessive heat, it's as vital for us to stay hydrated as it is for our fruits and vegetables out in the garden. Here are a few things to keep in mind along with an easy low cost solution to help get you and your garden through even the hottest days!
Its Hotter Than You Think Plants located near buildings, block walls or roof tops for example, are subjected to elevated temperatures. Stucco, concrete and roof tops trap and hold the heat which can raise the temperature surround your plants by as much as 10F!
If You Must Garden - Don't work in the heat of the day! While this may sound obvious, gardening in the heat and sun can cause severe exhaustion, heat stroke or even death. Tend to gardening related activities in the early morning hours or evening when temperatures are cooler and out of the direct sun. If you can't avoid it, try using a pop-up shade cover or patio umbrella over the area you are working in to provide some instant shade. And remember to stop frequently and drink plenty of water.
Patio and Containers Need More Water Plants in pots or containers require more water that those in the ground especially in hot weather and those near structures or concrete patios. Water thoroughly, use a tray to capture excess water and keep the soil moist. In the heat, water evaporates quickly so be sure to check them often.
Mulch, Mulch, Mulch A great way to reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation in the hot sun is to add a layer of mulch around your plants. It will act as a blaket to retain moisture in the soil, keeps the the weeds down and also provides nutrients back into the soil. Be sure to avoid rubber-type mulches as they will attract heat and actually dry out your plants.
Water at the Right Time Just like working out in the sun during the hottest part of the day, the same can be said for when you water. It's best to water in the early morning before temps begin to climb.
How You Water is Important Too In the heat, moisture evaporates quickly, especially with spray sprinkler systems. Much of the spray can be lost to evaporation or carried off by winds. What does make it to the plants will be collected on the leaves and evaporate, never making it to the roots. A great way to keep you and your plants well-hydrated is with recycled water bottles and here's how you do it;
1 Grab one of those empty water or soda bottles and drill 1 or 2 holes in the cap (1 for a slower drip)
2 Turn the bottle over and drill one hole in the bottom so the water can flow easily.
3 Fill and place upside down near the base of the plant
It's a cheap and easy way to keep your plants hydrated in excessive heat by providing plenty of water right where your plant needs it most. The slow, steady drip allows water to penetrate the soil and minimizes evaporation loss. It's also a great way to reuse all the water bottles you've gone through keeping yourself hydrated! Good luck and stay cool in the garden.