by Connie Oswald Stofko
Remember that snow we got in May? We couldn’t wait for sunny, summer weather in Western New York.
Well, it’s here– in full force!
Let’s look at some ways you can keep your garden–and yourself– healthy and happy during this summer heat.
Water your plants
“Watering is number one on the list for this week,” said John Farfaglia, extension educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Niagara County.
“In this heat, water loss from evaporation from the soil is rapid,” he said. Plants need a lot of water to stay healthy in these conditions, and container plants and recently planted trees and shrubs especially need a lot of water.
“Morning watering is preferred since less evaporation takes place at that time, Farfaglia said, “but in this weather it’s likely some plants will need water more than once a day. Soaker hoses are a good option for trees and shrubs in these conditions.”
For all of your plants, make sure you apply enough water to reach the roots of the plant. If you have an inch of mulch on top of your soil, remember that the water has to soak through all that mulch first, then get down to the roots.
If you don’t have a soaker hose, you can set your hose on slow and set it at the base of the plant. Come back a while later and stick your finger in the soil. If the soil is wet down to the roots, move the hose to another plant.
If you have a lot of plants in your yard, you may be tempted to quickly spray all your plants, but that doesn’t get the job done. The water won’t get down to the roots, so you’re just wasting water. In addition, wet leaves can promote disease in some plants.
Instead, make sure your most important plants are watered deeply. These might be new plants, favorite plants or expensive plants. Then deeply water plants other plants when you have time.
Daylilies and other drought tolerant plants don’t need to be watered, and most native plants can tolerate some hot, dry weather.
Stay safe in your garden
Now is the time to run through a sprinkler and forget about the weeds for awhile. According to the National Weather Service, you should avoid strenuous activities during hot weather like this. If you feel you must do yardwork, do it in the morning or evening when it’s coolest out.
When you’re looking for the coolest spot at home, it might not necessarily be indoors, the weather service noted. Gardeners are sometimes frustrated by shady areas, but this is the time of year to relish them.
We should always be using sunscreen and taking breaks from the sun, but it’s even more important now. Sunburn reduces your body’s ability to dissipate heat.