Gardeners Grow Together~Week 31 July, 2021: Helping Our Plants Survive This Intense Heat
Welcome to my special gardening page for those of you who like to garden yourselves! Each week, I will make suggestions as to what gardening tasks we need to do every week during the growing season. It will help keep you on track--as well as myself!
To keep things simple, I am using the year's weekly number, Week #1 through #52 (example: the week of January 1 is Week #1), instead of specific dates.
So, come on! Let's get our hands dirty!
How Do We Help Our Plants Survive this Heat?
The intense heat and drought we are experiencing here in the West is putting a great strain on our garden plants, as well as ourselves. Here are some ideas to help us all cope:
Water deeply once or twice a week By “deep watering” I mean watering for a minimum of four hours at least once a week (twice a week a week is better) with either overhead sprinklers or a drip system. Watering by hand or for short periods will only make matters worse. The water needs to go deep into the soil so the plants send their roots down deep, as well. Otherwise, the plants will keep their roots close to the surface where the water is. Then when it dries out, the roots are left exposed to drought conditions, weakening the plant.
Deep watering is essential for big, juicy fruit and veg, like cucumbers, watermelon, summer squash, and our precious tomatoes. Flowers benefit, too, such as large leafed or large flowered plants, like Dahlias and Sunflowers.
Water at Night
To preserve our precious water resources, it's best to use a drip system to prevent evaporation, but if that is not possible, water at night when it's cooler. In our dry conditions here in the West, we don't have to worry much about fungal infections on our plants from being wet. In other parts of the country where there is high humidity, water early in the morning to give the leaves a chance to dry off during the day.
Mulch is a gardener's best friend on many levels. A thick layer (at least 3”) of mulch can do wonders for both water retention and soil conditions. Wood chips, grass clippings, leaves, straw, and garden compost are all great to use as mulch. You can also use old newspaper or cardboard under the mulch to do an even better job of holding moisture, as well as preventing weeds from coming through. Just make sure the ground is well soaked beforehand. Mulch has the added bonus of significantly improving the quality of your soil by adding organic matter and attracting more biodiversity.
Mist during the day
If you find your plants wilting during the day, despite deep watering, it means that the plant is transpiring faster than it can take up water. That can stress plants, too. One of the best things to do is get a simple irrigation timer and attach it to your water source. Set it to sprinkle your plants, over head, for about 5 minutes every hour during the hottest hours of the day. If you have a sprinkler that puts out a fine mist, that's even better. All we want to do is cool down the plants and raise the humidity.
Finally, feed your plants once a week! It's so important. If you want your plants to perform at their best, they need nourishment. I designated every Friday as “Fertilizer Friday” to make sure I don't forget. Use a low nitrogen fertilizer in the case of fruiting or flowering plants, such as a liquid tomato feed, or a liquid seaweed, mixed half strength, in either a hose end sprayer or pump sprayer. Spray the foliage of the plants (yes, plants can absorb nutrients through their leaves!). Early morning is the best time to feed, as the plants do their metabolism thing during the day.
Now to the best part...I give you permission to be a kid! Run through the sprinklers to cool yourself off – then go sit under tree, watch your garden thrive and have yourself a Popsicle! Or, better yet, a cool cucumber from your garden!
Now, lets get busy!
If you have any questions, put them in the comments below!
Valmont Valley Farm
Where Beautiful Magic is Always in Bloom
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