Rescue Your Poor Garden From Death by Heat Wave

Garden Shade The nation’s midsection is burning! I'm talking about the scorching heat wave that just won't die. I heard about it on the radio. It’s actually quite balmy and pleasant here in the city by the bay, and even a bit breezy in the late afternoons. But don’t drink the hater-ade, it won’t cool you down -- and I’m only trying to help.
 
You may be suffering, but if you think you’ve got it bad, how would you like to be buried neck-deep outside with no air conditioning? I’m talking about your poor little tomatoes. They’re in serious danger of immolation. They need you to rescue them -- now!

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Here are some tips to save your garden and your yard from being totally destroyed by the heat. Unless you have only cactus plants, in which case -- never mind! You're good!

Shade your plants. Drape sheets over your stakes, or get fancy with fabric, grommets, and cement-based bamboo stakes. No reason your sun shade can’t be beautiful!
 
Mulch. Piling wood chips, grass clippings, or even old newspaper or carpet over the base of your plants will keep the water in and the sun out.
 
Keep your water low.
When you spray the hose into the air, up to 90 percent of your water evaporates. Keep it low, or use a "soaker hose" to deliver the water more directly.
 
Water twice a day, before 10 a.m. and after 7 p.m. Doing it when the sun is high can actually lead your plants and flowers to be scalded by the water as it heats in the sun.
 
Skip the fertilizer. Your plants are right this very minute hunkered down and conserving energy to survive the sweltering heat. Their rate of growth has slowed, big time. Save the fertilizer for when the weather breaks and they can actually use it.
 
Get those weeds and dead-heads out of there. Every root that doesn’t belong to your plants is stealing moisture from them. Every spent flower that isn’t immediately snipped off at the stem is wasting their limited energy. How’s that for motivation?
 
As for your grass, it’s going to go dormant -- as in, turn brown and quit growing. It’s not dead. It’ll be back. Your best bet, especially in areas where there are water shortages, is to learn to love it just the way it is. For now.

How are you keeping your garden alive in the heat?


Image via Vincent Desjardins/Flickr

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