During conditions of extreme heat, these simple tips can help keep both YOU and YOUR garden healthy
The stresses of a hot summer take their toll on our gardens and landscapes, as well as on us as their caretakers. While many plants can thrive in the normal summer heat, lengthy doses of daytime temperatures in the 90s and low 100s coupled with nighttime temperatures above 75°F are enough to push even the hardiest gardeners and plants to the edge of their capabilities.
Safe Summer Gardening Tips for you and your garden
In 2012, the U.S. Natural Hazard Statistics reported more heat-related fatalities than deaths due to lightning, flood, tornado, or hurricane. With some simple precautions, you can safely garden in the heat. The keys are working slower at cooler times of the day, drinking more appropriate fluids, and taking more breaks in a cool place. Perspiration is our body’s method for evaporative cooling. If the air temperature is too high, perspiring may not be enough to cool your body and the resulting heat stress may lead to heat cramps and heat exhaustion or even heat stroke, a potentially fatal condition.
Anyone can experience heat stress, but folks over 65 and the very young are most susceptible; overweight, heart disease, poor circulation, fever, sunburn, and some prescription drugs also increase susceptibility. If you are at higher risk, ask someone check on you periodically, if not work with you.
Avoid heat stress while gardening
The Center For Disease Control Provides The Following Tips:
Tips to Keep Your Garden Growing in Summer Heat
1. Water wisely for healthy landscapes during our Piedmont summers, especially during heat waves.
Amount: Irrigate the soil deeply and infrequently rather than giving plants a light sprinkling each day. Apply enough water each week to wet a sandy soil 12” deep and a clay soil 6-8” deep; this requires about 1” of combined rain or applied water per week.
Methods: Drip irrigation, soaker hoses, or selective hand-watering soil around bases of plants are the best methods for deep watering and afford maximum water conservation and cost savings. Sprinklers allow coverage of large areas like lawn, but never run sprinklers in full sun or windy conditions when much of the water is lost to evaporation.
2. Keep weeds to a minimum to reduce competition for nutrients, water, and space, and to promote strong growth of desired plants.
3. Avoid heavy pruning of shrubs in extreme heat.
4. Move potted plants and containers to shady areas until end of heat wave.
5. Choose tough plants known to thrive in your climate and plant them
in the proper location.
6. Mulch around plants with a light covering of organic material to retain soil moisture, prevent weeds, and maintain cooler soil temperatures.
7. Evaluate your garden – take a stroll to see what is sunburned, wilted in the morning, overcrowded, and/or exposed to too much sun and wind.
9. Remove destructive bugs by hand.
10. Avoid fertilizing because heat-stressed plants do not need to increase
their foliage canopy.
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DID YOU KNOW?
Just as our bodies perspire to stay cool, plants transpire water out of microscopic pores in their leaves. In high temperatures, transpiration can result in wilting which reverses in cool night temperatures if a plant has access to adequate water. Transpiration releases heat and maintains the flow of water and nutrients throughout the plant.
A LARGE SHADE TREE may pump several hundred gallons of water out of its leaves on a hot summer day, lowering air temperature by as much as 10°F.
Cause: Ignoring progression of worsening heat cramps and exhaustion.
Symptoms: Body temperature of 104°F or higher; lack of sweating; nausea and vomiting; flushed, hot skin; rapid, shallow breathing; racing heart rate; throbbing headache; confusion; unconsciousness; muscle cramps or weakness.
Treatment: SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL HELP! Untreated heatstroke can cause damage to your brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles, and even death. Take action to cool the overheated person such as moving to a cool location; removing excess clothing; placing ice packs or cold, wet towels on head, neck, armpits, and groin.
SPECIAL TIPS FOR HEAT-STRESSED LAWNS
Know your turf type. Whether you have a warm-season (like zoysia or St. Augustine) or a cool-season (like fescue) grass affects how your lawn responds to extreme heat and/or drought. Sustained temperatures in 94-104°F range and inadequate rainfall impact all turf types:
Mow turf to taller height. Never cut more than 1/3 of the blade. Taller grass height results in deeper root systems which helps turf in heat and drought.
Leave clippings on lawn to reduce evaporative water loss from soil and to provide moisture and nutrients to turf as they decompose.
Irrigate to a depth of 6-8” when grass shows signs of moisture stress such as slight wilting and discoloration; this interval is more frequent for cool-season turf.
Sharpen mower blades. Clean cuts minimize water loss.
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SUMMER VEGETABLE CROPS
are also susceptible to high temperatures. Photosynthesis rapidly decreases above 94°F resulting in diminished vegetable production. If night time temperatures remain over 70°F for an extended period, flower production and pollination are reduced. Extended periods of high daytime temperatures also lead to poor pollination and cause flowers to drop. Watering (Tip #1) and mulching (Tip #6) can reduce the impact of high temperatures on garden yields.