We’ve had a really hot Spring and Summer here this year, what can we do to cope with the effects of heat on the garden?

Raising vegetables in such extreme heat as this year has brought us more of a challenge than gardening in typical summer weather — both for the gardener and for the vegetables. Apart from planting heat-resistant varieties, there are methods you can take action with, even as temperatures reach the triple digits, to prevent hot-weather problems like wilting, sunscald and blossom drop.

For cool weather crops such as cabbage, lettuce, etc, make sure to plant them as early, or where fall crops can be grown, as late in the season as possible.

Compost (or other organic matter) and mulch are your friends! Both of these gardener’s helpers retain moisture and help keep the soil cooler so the heat will not overstress plants. Mulch also helps prevent weeds, which will steal water and nutrients, which the plants vitally need to remain strong in the face of extreme heat.

Giving plants some shade in the midday sun will help them in extremely hot times or climates. Planting them where they can get shade during the heat of the day will help them endure. You can even erect temporary shade on stakes in the garden to help sensitive plants beat the heat. Professional shade cloth can be purchased, or bedsheets can be a handy solution.

Watering early in the morning or late in the afternoon or evening helps to avoid evaporation. And remember in hot weather to water deeply, so plants get enough water. Watering the leaves of planets does not help cool them, they cool from the water on the inside. Watering leaves only invites plant diseases to set up shop.

Most of all, make sure to be careful of the heat yourself. Get your garden work in early in the day, or once the heat has gone down a bit in the evening. Make sure to drink plenty of water, and watch for signs of getting overheated, such as excessive sweating, cold clammy skin, dizziness, blurred vision, headache, fainting, muscle cramps, weakness, fatigue,nausea, or vomiting. Your health is just as important as a healthy garden!