Forecast: Heat index in triple digits all week long! Gentle Garden’s takes it easy…water, water, and more water!  How do we keep plants healthy? Some suggestions…

The recent heat wave and scattered rainfall donates proper water and other techniques to keep plants healthy. Most sensitive to heat and drought are newly planted trees and shrubs.  Upmost care is important to help establish strong roots on plants younger than 2 years old. They also need protection from the sun to prevent sun scald…a new fruit tree, or one that has been newly pruned, or a young tree with dark bark will need their bark protected; wrap with tree wrap or use latex white paint to protect the bark. A rule of thumb for watering trees: measure the trunk around and give the tree 10 gallons of water per inch.  Water to at least a depth of 12 inches and out to the drip line (outside tip of the branches) of the tree.

This is not the best time to divide plants…even the hosta and day lilies will suffer.  Be sure to mulch plants, keeping the stems clear but mulch out to the edge of the plant if possible. Use 2-3 inches to conserve the moisture and protect the roots from the heat. Avoid letting your lawn grass grow up to the trunk of trees and under plants as the grass will compete for moisture. Keep trees and plants evenly watered and slightly beyond their outer edges. Plants should receive 2 to 2.5 inches of water per week in this heat (vs. 1-1.5 of water in normal temperatures).  (If you are using a sprinkler, put out a empty tuna can and when it is full, it’s time to move the sprinkler).  Do not use high overhead sprinklers as the foliage is very susceptible to mold and diseases. It should be avoided at all costs.

Your lawn grasses like blue grass or ryegrass will go into dormancy naturally in this heat. This protects the roots and they will generally begin growing once the temperature and moisture returns to normal. Irrigate the lawn after 10 p.m. and before 8 a.m. to conserve water and the possibility of  disease. Deep, infrequent watering is best under normal temperatures; about 1½ inches to 2 inches of water per week, more frequently, and more water  during this temperature and  humidity. Lawns turn brown in times of dryness and heat…they are also brittle and  mowing is not recommended.  If you feel you need to mow, use the highest setting on the mower to eliminate burn out. This is not the time to start a new lawn from seed; the best time to seed is late August or early September…make sure to prepare lawn, use the correct seed and procedures and water, water, water. PS.  if you put grass seed in the freezer for 24 hours this will cut the germination time in half.

Vegetables need water and protection from the heat and sun during every stage of development.  Sometimes you may need to provide shading for some individual fruits and vegetables as they mature. Several ways to do this, create a tent out of newspapers, use a wire cage and put burlap over it, set up a cardboard box to give shade, cover some of the ground fruit with newspapers. Use soaker hoses for vegetables and keep their leaves free.  Use straw or mulch around them so the soil doesn’t splash up and send mold or other spores flying.

It’s hot out there, drink lots of water and wear sunscreen and hats to protect you eyes…use long sleeves to stop sunburn, spray for bugs. Carry cell phone for emergency.  Take breaks out of the sun. Above all, Be Safe Gentle Gardner’s!





This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 at 5:37 pm and is filed under Gardening Tips. You can leave a comment and follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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