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Editorial

Lawn and Garden


Dealing with the Heat of Summer



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07/01/2009 - Back in June it looked like summer might never come with all the late rains we were having. Now it seems that summer is here and is trying to make up for lost time. It has been very hot lately and that can make keeping your garden looking nice a challenge. Although beating the heat can be a challenge, the long day length and overabundance of sunny skies can also help your plants perform at their peak if you can manage their water needs. There are things you can do to make this easier. For example if you are watering in the evening try changing to watering in the morning. This will not only reduce the risk of developing powdery mildew and other fungal infections on your crops, but it will also make sure that they have a large reserve of available water going into the hot part of the day. Plants that are especially susceptible to powdery mildew are roses, squash, and pumpkin crops. These crops should not have water on their leaves going into the night.

Also, if you are container gardening, watering in the am is even more important because containers only hold a set amount of water. If you are watering on an evening schedule that means that their water level is going to be at its lowest in the late afternoon just before they receive their watering. This is the hottest part of the day and any lack of water will cause damage to your plants. If you are watering on a morning schedule the lowest water levels in your containers will occur during the early morning hours when it is cooler and the plants require less water, so the risk of having a severe wilt is less.

Another way to make sure that your container plants have enough water is to make sure that the container they are in is large enough to make it through the day without requiring several waterings. In full sun areas using a container much smaller than a ten inch pot will raise the odds that your beautiful flowers will turn into a hay bale before the summer is over. I have had experience with container haymaking myself, I have probably made more hay on my back porch than some farmers do in their fields.

In addition to managing your water levels it is also a good idea to be sure to fertilize your plants on a regular schedule, such as every two weeks. This will make certain that they keep vibrant colors all summer long. One common misconception about fertilizing is that it is a good idea to fertilize just after a plant has been sent to the brink by a lack of water to help it recover faster. This can do more harm than good, if your plant has a near death experience due to lack of water it is a good idea to let it recover for at least a week before you give it a booster shot of fertilizer. Good luck gardening. I hope that both you and your gardens can find ways to beat the heat this July.

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