Coping with Summer Heat and Your Garden

    • Set out starts of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and lettuce for a fall harvest. Spray weekly with BT to keep the cabbage worms at bay.
    • Replace codling moth pheromones now to make your apples as worm-free as possible. Replace the sticky papers at the same time.
    • Roses have more flowers all summer long than any other shrub. Plant them in a sunny location and feed monthly for continuous blooms.
    • Impatiens will give you instant color in shady areas and continue blooming right through the fall.
    • Mottled leaves are often a sign of spider mites. Check for them with a hand lens or bring a leaf in to your nursery, in a plastic bag, for identification and treatment options.

Coping with Summer Heat and Your Garden

This is the time of year when our gardens can get a little less than bright and fresh looking due to the summer heat. The combination of high temperatures and lack of water can stress plants, and especially fruit trees.

By far the easiest and most effective way of keeping your garden looking fresh is by mulching. It is most effective in areas where the direct rays of the sun are baking your soil. As the sun beats down on bare soil it just pulls the water right out of it.

This harsh drying of the soil surface can also result in a “crusting” of the soil so that it has difficulty absorbing water or actually repels water. This can be devastating to your garden causing you plants to stress each hot day during the warmest part of the day.

When plants wilt due to this heat, tissue damage occurs, and each time this happens the plants become weaker and have more trouble recovering. When plants are stressed for any reason they emit chemicals that may attract insect pests as well.

Some symptoms of heat stress on fruit trees are sunburn on the trunk and branches, branch dieback and the presence of bark beetles. Healthy, well-watered trees are more resistant to beetle attacks. Painting the trunks with white latex paint will reflect the hot sun and prevent sunburned bark.

For well-drained sites, apply a 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch around trees. If there are drainage problems, a thinner layer should be used. Avoid placing mulch against the tree trunks, but spread it out to the tree’s drip line or beyond.

Runoff water is a real problem for many home gardeners that live where soils are heavy. It can also be a problem for owners of new homes where the soils have been mechanically compacted. A layer of organic compost over the top of your soil will significantly reduce runoff. Mulching will also keep valuable plant nutrients in your soil where they belong.

Organic mulches placed on your soil regularly also build the overall quality of your soil as the mulch breaks down. It feeds the billions of beneficial microorganisms that help to increase humus formation while it also feeds such valuable garden friends as earthworms.

Composted wood chips make a good mulch, especially when they contain a blend of leaves, bark, and wood. Fresh wood chips may be used around established trees and shrubs. Bagged decorative bark also works well.

Monitor soil moisture and check your drip system for clogged sprinklers and emitters. If plants are doing poorly in spite of watering, make sure that you are not overwatering. Poke your finger down into the soil to test.

When the forecast is sizzling, plan to rise early and work during the cooler morning hours or in the evening. Keep a sharp eye on plants’ water needs, take good care of your soil and your plants will flourish in spite of the summer heat.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.