Best Gardening Tips To Stay Gardening In The Heat Here on the Suncoast this Summer
Many here on the Suncoast love the ability to garden year-round, whether in containers, raised gardens, or their yards. Unfortunately, gardening through the heat of the summer months here can be daunting. That doesn’t mean with a few adjustments to your gardening routine; you can make it through the dangerous heat of the summer with homegrown goodies for your home.
Organic Matter Needed
Healthy levels of organic matter (about 5-9%, depending on your soil type and climate) can make a huge difference in helping the soil to retain more water. In addition, a healthy soil full of beneficial soil organisms, such as mycorrhizal fungi, helps plants to better tolerate drought.
Using straw, grass cuttings, shredded leaves, etc. for mulch will keep the soil cooler and prevent it from drying out as quickly – but don’t use too thick of a layer. While mulch can help preserve moisture in the soil, a thick layer can also prevent rainfall from reaching the soil underneath, as the mulch itself can absorb large amounts of water.
Gardening Schedule Change-Up
Do your heaviest work such as weeding early in the morning, as early in the day as possible, or in the evening. It’s good for both you and the plants. Take a cue from South American and Mediterranean countries where it is siesta time from 11 to 2. Sit in the shade, relax and enjoy your garden, listen to the birds, and watch the butterflies. The weeds will still be there waiting for you once the day cools down.
Ensure Gardening Outfit Match Weather
Many of us have read the awful stories of individuals that die of heat stroke. It is a serious risk even for healthy, active individuals. Those of us who love gardening can’t wait to get out on a sunny day and play in our landscapes, but take some precautions before going out in the heat. Gardening in a heat wave can do more than exhaust you; it can cause a trip to the hospital.
Your clothing choice and other items on your body are the first steps to protecting yourself when gardening in a heat wave. Wear light colors that don’t draw in heat and fabric that breathes, like cotton. Your clothing should be loose and allow for airflow.
Put on a wide-brimmed hat to shield your head, neck, and shoulders from the sun. The effects of UV exposure on the skin are well documented. Put on an SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes before you go outside. Reapply as the product directs or after heavily perspiring.
Driplines for Constant Watering
Switch to inline drip. Inline drip irrigation is the most efficient kind of irrigation and the only type to use if you mulch your garden (which you absolutely should do). Drip lines sit on top of the soil, beneath mulch, so water drips directly onto the soil. Spray over mulch uses MORE water, as the mulch has to saturate before water can reach plant roots in the soil.
Pest and Weeds Need Extra Attention
Heat-stressed plants have a harder time competing with weeds and fighting off non-beneficial bugs. They’re already putting so much energy into protecting themselves from heat and sun that they’re too tired to fight off the bad guys.
How to give ‘em a helping hand:
• Keep an eye on weeds. If given the chance, weeds will steal water and nutrients from your soil. Don’t make your plants compete, especially in hot, dry weather! Remove weeds frequently, including any roots, so they don’t take over.
• Watch out for insects. Your plants are too feeble to fight off bad guys like mites, aphids, caterpillars, and other harmful insects. And of course, garden pests aren’t bothered at all by hot, dry weather. Hmph! Keep them at bay by plucking bigger pests off with your hands, hitting smaller ones with a blast of water, or spraying them with insecticidal soap.
What is your favorite summer vegetable to plant to keep in your garden? Do you change up your routine for gardening through the heat of summer? This list we hope inspires you to continue growing delicious food and beautiful plants for your home, friends, and gifts through the heart of summer here on the Suncoast. Not only can gardening be a relaxing pastime, but it also gives you something to look for throughout the year. We hope you find a great routine for this summer, and the fall will be here again before long.
HAPPY GARDENING, SUNCOAST!
Photo courtesy of Deposit Photos