10 Watering Tips Help Your Garden Beat the Heat
Here are some tips for keeping your miniature garden, and your full-sized garden, healthy during heat waves. You may be in an area with a water ban as well so it is even more critical to conserve whatever water you can. With proper watering techniques, you can get the most out of your watering even in extreme temperatures.
The following tips can work for containers or for the garden bed.
1. Test: Only water if needed. Stick your finger down into the soil at least an inch deep. If it is still moist or damp, you can put off the watering for a day or so. If it’s dry, then water. For smaller pots, lift them up to feel how heavy, or light, they are. Dry soil will be much lighter than moist soil.
2. Frequency: Water your in ground gardens deeply and infrequently. This will teach the roots of the plants to look for water on their own, and grow deeper into the soil. Watch your watering for your containers and water accordingly for the plants’ needs, not just because it is a new day.
3. Timing: Water in the early morning or, better yet, at night after the sun has gone off your garden. The plants can recover during the cooler nighttime temperatures. Watering mid-day is useless – most of the water will evaporate quickly.
4. What to water: Water the soil, not the plant, and make sure the water gets down to the roots.
5. What to use: Conserve water by hand watering. Sprinklers and sprays of water don’t direct the water straight to the plant’s roots where it is needed. Use a watering wand on the shower setting, and turn the tap on half-way to avoid strong, misdirected sprays of water that is just going to evaporate in the heat.
6. Corral the water: Build a trough around the base of your plants to direct the water straight down to the roots. Fill up the trough with water and let it drain down a couple of times for some deep watering. This is a critical technique if your garden is planted on a hill.
7. Mulch: Mulching means to put a 2″ to 5″ layer of (usually) organic matter on top of the soil to help keep the moisture from evaporating. Organic mulch can be bark, wood chips, straw, cocoa beans, pine needles, shredded leaves, compost or cut grass. Inorganic mulch can be a variety of things like rubber chips, newspaper, or plastic. For your miniature garden, use a fine compost and keep the layer even throughout the garden bed. For pots, the fine compost works well too, but normally you wouldn’t have much bare soil in a container.
8. Cover the ground: Some of our most favorite miniature garden plants are ground covers fortunately. By covering the bare ground with plants and foliage, it will slow down the soil drying out.
9. Shade: Is your miniature garden in a container? Move it out of the full sun into a bright shade spot, the north or east side of the house. Even if the plants belong in full sun, they’ll be okay for a few days on the porch or awning until the heatwave passes. If you have new plantings in ground, use a big golf umbrella to shade them during the hottest hours. Weigh-down the handle of the umbrella so it won’t blow away.
10. Plant more: It is too late to plant anything new during a heat wave but this fall, consider planting more of your full-size garden. Big trees bring shade, combined with big shrubs can create an naturally cool place in your garden. Planting in fall is one of the best times to get a garden established before next summer, and you’ll use less water next summer, because the winter rains and snow will help them get established in their new home.
Water ban? When you turn on your shower, or your tap, and wait for the water to get hot, collect the water (called grey water) in a bucket to bring out and water the garden. Better yet, plug the drain and collect your all shower water – if you take baths, use the bath water. Make a scoop by cutting out the bottom of a square milk jug or detergent container. You can also put a bucket in every sink to collect the run off every time you turn on any tap. Consider using organic soaps although I’m not sure if it does matter because this is not recommended for edible crops. You can also use the water that you boil any vegetables in too. Note that some areas have certain regulations for grey water usage.
I hope this helps you get through this extreme weather. I wish I could send the Seattle rain your way – we’re still waiting for the weather to warm up over here. As they say, the grass is always greener on the other side of the country! ;o)
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