THE HEAT IS ON!
By Trey Pitsenberger, co-owner
Now that we are into summer full bore, and temperatures
are in the nineties and hundred degree range, our gardens
can use a little extra attention to help them through
the rest of summer. Some of the tips should have been
done earlier for the best results; others can be done
now for instant results.
Can you plant in the summer time when it this hot? Yes,
but when you plant is very important. Try to do you planting
in the early morning or at dusk when the sun in waning
in the sky. Planting in the middle of the day is quite
uncomfortable on you, the gardener. In an effort to get
the job done and get back into the air conditioning,
you may hurry things up, not taking the time to dig the
hole properly, mix you amendments correctly, or water
the plant in properly. When you remove the plant from
the container you purchased it in, the heat and sunlight
can dry or burn the roots of the plant, resulting in
crispy leaves days later. Planting early morning or late
in the day will keep the roots from being burned. You
will be more comfortable and more likely to take the
time to do the job properly.
If you are planning to do major landscaping you might
want to prepare the site for planting this fall. Many
people do not realize that fall is a wonderful time to
plant. In the foothills the fall planting season starts
around the middle of September and lasts, depending on
the weather, through October and much of November. Yes,
I know it can still be hot in September, but the sun
is not as high in the sky as in summer. Plants roots
will love the warm soil, growing even if the above ground
portion of the plant is begging to go dormant. Come spring
of next year this root system will support much more
growth that spring planted shrubs and trees.
With hot dry winds blowing now, plant roots, especially
shallow rooted types, like Japanese Maples, can dry out
rather quickly. To prevent this from happening try covering
the surface of the soil with a protective layer of mulch.
Shredded Red Cedar, and Fir Mulch, are two such items.
These items are decorative top dressings, that when applied
about 2 inches thick around the base of plants will dramatically
reduce the need for water. Covering the bare soil with
mulch keeps the soil cool, and reduces changes in moisture
content. Here in the foothills, where the heat is intense,
and there is little humidity in the air, mulching is
almost a must. Those of you from the cooler coastal areas
will find out just how much drier our soil gets without
the coastal influence.
Watering in the morning is generally better than watering
at night. When you water at night, especially with your
lawn, the moisture remains on the foliage, sometimes
promoting the incidence of fungus. Watering in the morning
allows the foliage to dry out, reducing the conditions
that promote fungus. Still, if your plants are dry, water,
no mater what time of day it is.
Container plants in the sun can dry out, even with daily
watering. The side of the pot, exposed to the direct
rays of the sun, can get quite hot even with moist soil.
Sometimes this can burn the roots that have grown right
up to the edge of the inside of the pot, causing leaf
scorch. To prevent this try grouping smaller container
plants around the larger pot. This will help to shield
the sides of the pot from the rays of the sun, keeping
the pots dramatically cooler.
Take it easy on yourself, plant in the early morning
or late in the day, and enjoy the hard work you put into
your garden this spring.