One thing gardeners in Colorado can count on is not counting on the weather to provide ideal spring conditions to get the garden planted on time and tomatoes off to a good start. Our tomatoes got their good start in mid-June, no BLTs in sight until August. No worries, it will be well worth the wait.
Now it’s July, the weather is typical July conditions in Colorado – hot, dry and often windy – a hot wind. I hate the wind.
Buckle up, or better yet, unbuckle to allow more air flow, the heat will be on and turned up the next few days. Sunday looks cooler, back to the 80s (if they’re right).
My garden plans include the following, perhaps yours are similar:
Complete most outdoor chores early in the day. This includes walking Ferris around the park before 7:00 am. He doesn’t like the heat, he’s Irish by heritage and would be happy with 24/7, 365 cold and snow conditions.
I hand water containers and the newly seeded areas twice a day (at least). We’re on our third sowing of basil. Several batches have already been harvested, processed with olive oil, labeled and frozen. Tomato sauces this winter will have the added benefit of almost fresh, homegrown basil. Thinking of a cold winter right now ain’t so bad.
Tips on watering. If you’re too busy to water in the morning, try watering in the cool of evening (there won’t be much cool the next couple of days, so just pretend). When watered thoroughly (until water comes out of the bottom) containers will be nice and hydrated through the night and hot next day.
If your containers are located on hot surfaces or near walls, make time before you’re off to work in the morning to give them a quick, thorough shower of water. Yes, overhead watering, which is the opposite of the normal recommendation to water at the base of plants.
Overhead watering is a great way to prevent or fight off spider mites which love many plants growing in hot conditions. A good dose of water easily splashes spider mites off of foliage and in these oven-like temperatures, your plants will be dry before you arrive at work. Do this every morning if you can.
Consider moving your sunniest hanging baskets to a location with half-day sun until temperatures cool down a bit.
Don’t freak when you see plants wilt mid-day, that’s their response to the heat, if they are still nodding later in the evening, check to see if they need watering – thumb down two-four inches. Or use a handy (free) screw driver near the plant. If it goes down fairly easily, then the rooting zone is probably moist, if you’re pushing it down, then she’s dry! If in doubt, purchase a ten dollar indoor plant meter and poke it down like the screw driver. Water deeply, yet infrequently, about every 3-4 days depending on how fast your soil drains.
Lawn watering – I use the soak and cycle method two times a week through most of the summer. That means the zones run through twice. I added an extra day this week with the hot temperatures. The system goes off at 5:00 am, 20 minutes each zone. Also, the grass is kept on the high side for three reasons. Taller grass keeps turf roots cooler, weeds aren’t happy (they like short), and the female Japanese beetles don’t like tall grass to lay their eggs.
If you’re seeing dry spots in the lawn, check your sprinkler heads. They may be broken or slightly askew. Also check to see that they aren’t spraying the sidewalk or street. I’m seeing a lot of that this summer, what a waste!
Other morning or evening chores:
Renew mulch around plantings to keep soil roots cooler, and weeds out. I’m not a fan of landscape fabric which long term doesn’t improve the soil like organic mulches, they may compromise plant health and weeds get in, through or on top anyway.
Shade new plantings and growing vegetables if you can. I’ve invested in shade cloth to use for hail and sun protection. It’s sold in independent garden centers, some sell it bulk in rolls. It’s not that expensive and will last for years if stored away at the end of the season. Tomatoes are especially adversely affected by 92+ temperatures. Fruiting stops or dry up which mean less fruit. Leaf roll is common and watch out for blossom end rot on the first fruits.
No need to remind you to keep hydrated (your pets too), even while you’re indoors watching The Open. Time for my water refill now. Stay cool out there fellow gardeners!!
|Shade Cloth over Tomato|