It’s been hotter than ever in the garden these past few weeks, and getting tasks done is no longer an enjoyable experience. Thankfully, the heat let up yesterday, and I manage to spend an hour and a half replacing empty spots and sowing seeds for a fall harvest. The respite is temporary, though. Dealing with a heatwave in the garden is tough, but not impossible.
As someone who is particularly sensitive to the heat, I detest gardening during a heatwave. It slows me down, keeps me from doing frequent garden checks, and stresses out plants. I’m incredibly diligent with watering, but I can’t seem to keep up. We usually get plenty of rain all year round, but this year feels drier than ever—evidenced by raging wildfires in forested, rural parts of the province. If you need help with your lawn, check out https://www.lawncare.net/service-areas/arkansas/.
Some days it feels impossible to head outside. I can’t abandon my garden, though, and neither can you. So what can a frugal gardener do to keep the garden alive when temperatures soar to an uncomfortable level?
Here are a few tips for getting through a heatwave in the garden:
- Hydrate. It’s been so hot that I’ve been sweating just standing in place watering the plants. All that moisture needs replacing. I make sure to fill up a water bottle and keep it close by when I’m in the garden.
- Avoid going out at noon. Don’t go out during the hottest part of the day. If you’re not an early riser, water and check on things in the evening.
- Mulch. Without mulch, my plants would all be toast by now. Ultra-hot dry weather and drought have wreaked havoc on the garden. Lawns across town are crinkly messes (Boy, I’m glad I don’t have a traditional lawn!). Mulch helps conserve moisture and is especially handy during times of extreme heat.
- Focus on essential tasks. When it’s cool outside, I spend a lot more time out in the garden just hanging out and working on things here and there. When it’s super hot outside, don’t dilly dally. Get right to the most important stuff (e.g., watering).
- Harvest early or late. Don’t harvest stuff in the middle of the day. You’ll end up picking wilted, limp produce. Do it at the crack of dawn or in the evening, instead.
- Use shade cloth. I’m still growing lettuce during the heatwave thanks to shade netting that keeps the sun from burning tender leaves. My lettuces are slower to bolt with the shade cloth, but it’s also imperative that you select bolt-resistant varieties for summer growing.
- Water right. Spraying the hose every which way isn’t a productive way to water the garden at any time. During a heatwave, though, your plants are especially thirsty. Water deeply and aim the hose under your plants instead of spraying them from above.
It’s possible to get your garden through a heatwave. It just takes a bit of extra patience and care. Don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. If you can’t handle the heat for whatever reason, ask a friend or neighbor to help you water temporarily.
I’m looking forward to more rain. Here’s hoping it arrives soon!
Steph Coelho is a freelance writer gardening in zone 5b. She is a certified Square Foot Gardener and has taught various garden-related workshops. When she’s not digging in the dirt or writing, she’s cooking up fresh produce, running, or listening to her favorite podcasts.