If there was any doubt before, summer is definitely upon us. As we mentioned last week, watermelon is a great crop to start with for an enjoyable season. I do realize that you probably want to grow more than just watermelon, but it can be tricky in the heat.
As an (very) amateur gardener myself, I often struggle with consistently giving my plants enough water. According to Gardeners Supply Company, our bodies are 60% water whereas plants are 85-90% water. This means they require a lot of water! Plants seem to tire of being pushed to the brink of death over and over again. Here are five steps to moving your garden from surviving to thriving this summer.
In a great article on the Eartheasy Blog, they recommend mulching around your plants. A mulch that is light in color will help your garden retain moisture longer while also reflecting the intense heat from the sunlight. They go on to suggest that you can use your grass clippings as mulch. That sounds like a great savings over purchasing mulch at the store!
Grow the right stuff
Gardeners Supply Company says, “tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, corn, melons and squash actually need at least a month of 80 to 90 degree weather to develop a flavorful and abundant crop.” They go on to say that crops like various lettuces, cilantro, broccoli and cauliflower do better earlier or later in the season when temperatures are a bit cooler. That explains why my cilantro is so desperately trying to flower right now and my tomatoes are exploding.
Consider some shade
On extremely hot days, Abundant Mini Gardens recommends using shade cloth or lattice to cool your garden off. Sometimes this can cool it by ten degrees or more. Depending on your climate, the extreme heat of summer can be too much even for tomatoes and peppers that generally love the heat.
Be careful with tall, raised garden beds
Raised garden beds are great for a lot of reasons, however as Abundant Mini Gardens warns us, they also heat up faster than a garden directly in the ground. This means that they can also potentially dry out faster.
It goes without saying that your garden should be well watered, but more important than simply watering is when you choose to water. Water in the coolest part of the day either in the morning or in the evening. Watering in the heat of the day can cause more water to evaporate before it adequately soaks into the soil.
The Smart Gardener also reminds us to take care of the gardener. Be sure to stay hydrated and avoid working in the garden in the heat of the day in the peak of summer.
Stay cool my friends!