This is a collaborative post.
This year has made me see some real short comings in my garden lately, mainly in the fact that I’m not that well prepared for really hot weather. With the soaring temperatures we’ve had lately it’s something that we all need to give a bit of thought to.
Provide Some Shade
The greenhouse got up to some crazy temperatures on sunny days. I noticed one day that it was well over 50 degrees C in there. I temporarily shaded it by using an old dust sheet on the south side.
Having some gardening supplies, like pots with water reservoirs would help as well. I think I might even move back to having greenhouse beds rather than growing in buckets in the future.
Use Mulch for Locking in Moisture
I wish I discovered using mulch some much sooner than I did. Bare soil dries out so quickly, so using organic matter to cover the soil is a great way to lock in moisture and it prevents nutrients being washed out from heavy rain (another problem we suffer from in the UK!).
Not treading on soil really helps with this and I have pretty much gone over to the no dig system of gardening. My trouble has always been finding enough weed free compost or manure, so I tend to use a plastic woven weed membrane over the top. This is also great for holding in moisture and I’m often surprised when I pull it back just how damp the soil can be even with weeks without rain.
Collect Rain water
If you don’t already own a water butt, make sure to invest in one! Check out my post on prepping for a short time with no water – a water butt goes a long way to making sure you have some when you need it!
Rain water is also far better for your plants.
When it’s hot, it’s really important that you water your plants at the right time of the day. The best times for watering are very early in the morning or late in the evening when the sun and the temperatures are still low.
I tend to do mine at night and find this is a nice time of day to check on the plants as well. I don’t water plant that are growing in the ground much and tend to use the “Spanish system” of growing where you only water to establish and then let the plants root head downwards to find more water.
This normally works fine, but this year I have had considerably less yields because it’s been so dry. Carrots in particular have been tiny and I’m sure if I watered them more regularly then the yields would have been better.
Make sure if you’re going to water your plants that you do it regularly. You’re far better to water less often and really soak the plant rather than a little and often.
Young seedlings need particular care in the hot, sunny weather and when establishing any transplants (like I do with beetroot) it might be worth using some shade cloth to prevent them drying out straight away. Make sure this cloth isn’t too close to the plants and the air can flow otherwise it will do more harm than good.
Remove Weeds from Your Garden
Ah man, I wish I was better at this. Weeds need water to grow and thrive, many are far better at growing in difficult conditions than the veg we want to grow. So by having less weeds you have less competition for the water in your garden.
But that said the ground wants to be covered, so unless you’re using a mulch then something will want to grow in its place. Bare soil will dry out very fast so sometimes having a few weeds is far better than bare earth but it’s balance – one my garden doesn’t have at the moment!
Remember “One year seeded – seven years weeded” is a very true phrase! Just one dandelion plant can produce approximately 2,000 seeds in a single year.
Add a Watering Spot for Wildlife
Your plants aren’t the only ones that need water in hot weather - the local wildlife visiting your garden will also be desperately searching for it! Add a shallow watering spot with rocks so that bees, hedgehogs, and butterflies can safely drink water and fly away. At a push even a plastic feed bag with some water on it will do and help them out. Remember there are lots of beneficial animals and insects you want to help out as well. I’d love to add a pond here in the future to become a real wildlife haven and house more creatures that eat slugs…
What tips have you got for gardening in hot weather? How is your garden looking after this terribly hot summer?