Surviving Summer Heat
By: Gary Garner Sr.
Summer is officially here. If the summer is anything like the beginning, it is going to be extremely warm if not hot. So far, the number of 90-degree days is unusually high. The question now is how, when and how much do we water what we have planted and what else can we plant?
Off the top, let me remind you that because a plant is flopped does not mean it needs water. Plants flop to protect themselves from the heat. If they flop during the daytime but stand back up at night, they do not need water. If they are still flopped at nine or ten o’clock at night, then they likely need some water.
If a shrub or tree has been in the ground through one winter, then it should not need to be watered. It should be well rooted in and able to sustain itself without additional help. Newly planted shrubs and trees will likely need to be soaked to the bottom of the root zone every week to ten days until early fall. I would not depend on summer rain from pop up storms to take care of watering my in-ground plants. Slow soaking is the word.
Vegetable gardens get more complicated. Too much watering and you get lots of growth and very little produce. Plants don’t grow and fruit. With in ground gardens, I recommend very light added water. If you are using raised beds, containers, or some similar method then treat it by the recommendations below for container plants.
For container plants there are many variables. Is the container in full sun, partial sun or shade. What is the plant? For instance, a pot of impatiens will likely need to be watered daily in full sun whereas a pot of geraniums might only need to be watered every third or fourth day. Geraniums store water while impatiens do not.
A container in shade might only need to be watered weekly while the same container in the sun might need daily watering. If the container is where it receives significant wind, then it is going to need watering more often.
Last thought, when planting containers try to put all plants with like needs in the container. Don’t mix shade loving plants with sun loving plants. Don’t mix perennials with annuals. These mixes may look great for a weekend pool party or a special event, but they will not hold up for any length of time.
Finally, you have two great gifts to determine water needs. The first is the best water meter ever made. Your finger. Stick it in the soil, if it feels dry you probably need water. If it feels damp don’t water. Beats a hundred-dollar water meter every time. Next, you have a head use it. Common sense solves most problems. Books, you tube, fathers and grandfathers all help but none of them replace common sense.
Now what can be planted this late in the year. For color if you can find plants, plant now. The plants you want may be hard to find but there are still lots of nice plants available. Plant now and you can still get about four months of color. Go for it.
For vegetables, string beans, tomatoes, late sweet corn, cukes planted now should be worthwhile. You will not get the yield that you would receive from earlier, but you will get enough to make the cost and effort worthwhile.