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Helping your plants beat the heat

  • Blog Post by: Kim Palmer
  • July 2, 2012 - 11:04 AM

 

These are the days that run up the water bill.

 

With a string of 90-plus and even 100-degree temperatures in the forecast over the next few days, we're going to be dumping a lot of water on our plants, trying to keep them healthy and hydrated in this extreme heat.

Even with extra watering, plants  can suffer from heat stress in weather like this. My leaf lettuce and arugula are already bolting. My begonia blossoms look scorched. 

My tomatoes look OK for now, but I'm a little worried they'll soon be wilting, dropping blossoms and fruit.

Last night I spent more than half an hour running back and forth from the kitchen faucet to my patio containers, trying to replenish the moisture Mother Nature had sucked out of them during the day. I'm sure my plants will be parched again when I come home tonight.

Veggies need a lot of water even in normal weather. How much? Some sources say each plant needs 3 to 5 gallons of water each week -- even more during a heat wave. Container-grown veggies, like mine, are especially vulnerable to drying out.

To make sure you're giving yours enough water, poke a finger into the soil, about an inch deep. If the soil feels dry, water. And make sure to water deeply. A light watering that only wets the surface won't cut it.

You can also try shading certain crops, such as leafy greens, to slow bolting and buy you a couple more days of edible crop. 

On the plus side, the heat wave gives us an excuse not to mow for a few days. Grass is already under stress in extreme heat, and cutting it stresses it further. 

And our tropicals will love this steamy jungle weather.

How's your garden faring so far -- is the heat taking a toll yet? 

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