The Wednesday Dig: How to Keep Your Garden Cool From the Heat

The Wednesday Dig: How to Keep Your Garden Cool From the Heat

We Wanderers are hot. Seriously…we don’t have air conditioning (also we’re sexy but that’s a story for another day).

If we’re hot, our plants are too. It’s a big stress on plants to weather heat—now that the heat’s here, your beautiful harvest is dropping off or burning. Let’s go over some strategies to protect your gorgeous greens from getting scorched.

Anticipate the heat. When the heat gets to Southern California, it’s dry. Water doesn’t stand a chance of staying in the ground. Prepare and put a barrier between the ground and the sun. We use mulch, a well-shredded bark barrier that we lay on about 3-4 inches deep. When you use this much mulch, it really excels at the stuff it’s supposed to: it prevents weeds from growing up, it keeps the ground from changing temperature and, most importantly for what we’re talking about, it holds in water and prevents it from evaporating in high heat.

Evaluate Your Watering Strategy!
Very few amateur gardeners really understand how to water a garden much less a yard. Going out with your hose for 10 minutes every day is not the kind of productive and healthy watering your plants need. Deep watering is the most effective way to encourage your plants to develop large healthy root systems that can and do serve as excellent support systems when the heat and bad weather show up.

How to Water Deeply: 

  • Chose a time to water that works most effectively for soil water retention: either night time or early morning work best.
  • If watering potted plants, make sure the dirt isn’t too compact (like a clay skin on top layer). Break it up a bit with your fingers if it’s too compact.
  • Begin with a cursory watering: soak the soil around all of your plants until it looks like it’s got a tiny lake sitting on top of it.
  • Always avoid wetting the leaves of plants! If you wet the leaves at night, it can breed fungus; if you wet them in the morning, it can act as a magnifying glass to the sun and burn the leaves.
  • After your first round of watering, there will likely be a lot of run off. Let that soak in and come back 30 minutes to an hour later and do another round of extensive wetting. If you have a grass yard, set your sprinklers to do this: instead of a 10 minute watering period, split it up into two five minute periods an hour apart from each other. The grass will absorb the water a lot better and you’ll end up with less on your sidewalk.

Feed Your Plants!
Feed your plants before the heat and during the heat. A good feeding schedule is key to keeping your plants healthy. Whether you use organic or chemical fertilizers, make sure your plants have the nutrients to support themselves when the going gets tough and you’ll end up with much less damage to your harvest. A great treat for your plants when you know its going to get hot is to use a little seaweed extract in your fertilizer—it encourages your little buddies to retain water.

With these tips, we hope you have healthy, cool and sexy plants during the hot months of summer!