I agree with Ella Fitzgerald. It’s just too darn hot. My plants and I are wilting a bit in the heat, but I’m a determined gardener, so I’m doing what I can to keep my garden — and me — going.
Water less often and deeply to keep plants happy. A good, deep, once-a-week water for vegetable plants forces the roots to grow deep and strong and better able to weather drought. It also helps keep nasty diseases like blossom end rot from zapping your tomatoes and other crops.
Weekly watering is also a must for newly planted trees and shrubs. Anything you planted this spring needs a good, deep watering once a week to soak the root zone. A slow trickle from a hose works as does a soaker hose spiral or a 5-gallon bucket with holes punched in the bottom.
Water in the morning if you can. Or water as early in the evening as possible so the leaves dry before dusk. Wet leaves promote fungal disease and we’ve had a bumper crop of all things fungal from our soggy spring.
Renew mulch. If your mulch is getting thin, top it off with an extra layer to help plants retain water. I’ve been topping off the grass clippings around my vegetables to keep weeds at bay and both temperature and moisture levels even. One to 3 inches is all you need.
Keep scouting for pests. Some bad boys sneak in during summer heat, so stay vigilant. I saw my first Japanese beetles last week, so I’m rolling them into a container of soapy water for control.
Keep mowing high. 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches is about right. That’s high enough to shade out some weeds like crabgrass and promote deep, drought-defying roots.
Pinch leggy annuals. I know it’s hard to cut back your potted petunias. But they need it to flush out new, thick growth and flowers. Honestly, it’s for their own good.
The same goes for perennials past their prime. Shearing catmint, salvia and others after their first blooms fade makes them bloom again. I get three cycles of flowers if I’m vigilant.
And for heaven’s sake, don’t let weeds go to seed. You know how they are. So, off with their heads.
Garden smart to stay safe in the heat. Do your gardening in the cool of the morning or later at night.
Wear a hat and sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Take frequent water breaks. And plop down in a comfy chair in the shade to admire your garden and sip something cool.
My favorite too-darn-hot day activity is to catch up on my garden journal. Details escape me unless I jot them down, so I take time to note bloom times, terrific combos, problems or quirks when the heat chases me inside. I sneak photos, too, so I can enjoy my flowers year-round.
I hope I’ve given you some tips for beating the heat. Stay cool out there and enjoy your summer gardens.
Annette Ipsan is the Extension educator for horticulture and the Master Gardener program in Washington County for the University of Maryland in Washington County. She can be reached at 301-791-1604 or firstname.lastname@example.org.