Whew, another heat wave already. Here are a few tips to help you and your garden cope with this week’s weather.
Water wisely. Avoid using sprinklers — the water just evaporates into the air when it’s hot. Drip hoses set on timers are the ideal way to irrigate. Water the roots of your plants, not the foliage. Aim your hose at the base of the plant to get at the roots. While it’s tempting to water a little bit every day, it’s better to water deeply and give your plants a good soaking (an inch of water a week is ideal). Avoid mid-day watering — in the morning is best.
Give extra care to your containers. Any annuals or perennials in pots or window boxes may need water every day. Again, give them a good soaking. If practical, move containers out of the sun this week. Don’t fertilize them in a heat wave.
Coddle new trees and shrubs. Any plants in your garden that are less than 2 years old need extra water. Again, water the roots and water deeply.
Add mulch. A protective layer of hardwood mulch (2 to 3 inches deep is good) will help keep your plants cool and insulated. Mulch also helps keep weeds out of your garden.
Let the lawn go dormant. Your grass may turn brown when temps stay in the nineties for a prolonged period, but it will green up again when we get rain and cooler weather. The lawn may look dead, but it’s not.
Enjoy the bounty. Many vegetables and fruits — tomatoes, corn, peppers, beans, berries (especially blackberries) — will thrive in hot weather, especially the warm nights. Pick daily, and, again, give your vegetable garden plenty of water. Alas, cool-season greens, lettuces and brassicas (broccoli) will not be happy this week.
Take it easy. If you need to be out gardening and doing other yard work, do it early in the morning if you can. Get up with the birds, and get outside to get the day’s chores out of the way. Make sure you’re getting as much water as your plants!