Searing Australian summer sun is nice for cooling down at the beach. Not so nice for our lovely vegetable and herb patches, garden beds or farms.
We scoured the net and found quality advice from people like Dr David Beardsell, a horticultural botanist and lecturer in plant science at Melbourne University.
From preventative to heat wave survival here are some lifeline tips for every lawn, herb garden and veggie patch.
Don’t leave your plants in the car (aka a black pot)
You’d never leave your precious child in the car during the heat and plants are no different. Potted plants in black or dark pots heat up in the sun and dry out, as well as clay pots, which draw moisture from the soil and retain heat for long periods of time.
Wooden containers provide great insulation for the plant’s roots during summer and are an easy DIY project. Or, you can look into self-watering pots that ensure a plant is consistently hydrated. As for your hanging baskets, they dry out very quickly, so make sure to move them to a cool, dark place during a heat wave.
We all know that good soil produces good plants so surrounding your plants in good mulch (organic and chunkier is the best) will be best for allowing water to penetrate the soil and add nutrients. Mulch made of Pine Bark will help retain moisture and regulate soil temperature during the summer, and will also reduce weed growth.
Finished with the Wine Bottles?
Before they head into recycling why not use them bottles. Plants need a constant supply of water to survive, which means more than just a hose down once a day when the thermometer hits 40 degrees.
Indoor plants, pots can be put into trays of water and kept in a cool, dark place. For outdoor plants, including those in pots, try filling an empty wine bottle with water and pushing it into the ground upside down next to the plants or into their pots.
This will ensure the plant has a steady water supply that doesn’t evaporate under the heat of the sun. It’s a quick fix that will last a few days.
Have Some Night Garden Watering Fun
Wack on the cozy, pull out the slip and slide and have some night watering fun.
Watering your plants at night allows time for the soil to absorb the moisture. In a heat wave it’s easy to think any water is helpful, but if the sun is hot enough it’ll just dry the water right off the plants, or potentially heat up the water and burn the plant.
Not all plants have a built-in sunscreen so hang up a shade cloth on the west side of your garden to shield your plants from the afternoon sun.
This could simply be a recycled sheet or a tarp you have lying around, to add that extra bit of protection for your plants when the sun hits them directly.
Long-term, planting tall, sun-loving plants such as sunflowers in front of the smaller ones will add protection, or grow a heat-tolerant vine on a trellis that can be placed in front of your plant beds during summer.
If you have trees in the yard move your pots under the tree – nothing like trees to add extra shade. Or if you have pumpkins let them grow over summer, their leaves provide great cover for smaller growth and you’ll have pumpkins at Christmas.
Treat Your Soil to Water Saving Crystals
These little crystals retain water and slowly release drops into the soil so your plants get extra water. All you need is a few spoonfuls scattered into the soil and around the plant base.
Make sure you water yourself as well – drinks lots of water, scotch, wine, beer, tea and coffee – anything with water in it.
Enjoy summer gardening.