Many annuals have shallow root systems that dry out easily in the heat of summer. By choosing plants with a hardier root system (biennials (produce for two years), perennials, heat resistant crops, etc.) you’ll start your summer garden off on the right foot.
Pros of heat resistance crops: Less watering = less money spent on water and less work during the heat.
Pros of planting perennials or biennials: You will be investing in the future of your garden instead of planting for one growing sea-son at a time.
When planting from starts: Create a small dirt moat around each plant (slightly larger than the drip line, where the leaves reach out to). This channels water towards the roots when the plant is watered or when it rains. This is a particularly good idea if you are working with compacted or sunbaked soil.
When direct planting from seeds: Dig a small channel 1-2 inches deeper than the recommended depth for the type of seeds you are planting. Sprinkle the seeds in the channel and cover with the appropriate amount of soil making sure there are still ridges (of soil) on either side of the seeds, to channel water downwards.
Shade cloth can be essential during the summer months. You can use it to protect young fragile seedlings/starts or give larger, more es-tablished plants a break from the heat. Shade cloth is available at many garden, home and department stores. There are different grades of “shade” available, depending on the intensity of the sun you are attempting to partially block out.
At the same garden supply stores you should also be able to find metal hoops (semi circles) that can be placed over your garden beds to prevent the shade cloth from touching or damaging plants.
When it comes to retaining fertility and moisture in your soil, mulch is on your side.
Mulch can attract slugs and other gastropods, but it also protects the soil from UV light, as well as the heat of the sun and compac-tion, while helping the soil to retain nutrients and moisture.
Different mulches: You can use grass, hay, newspaper, weed-mat and cardboard as mulch.
General tip: Exposed soil is never a “great” thing. There are times you need to work the soil or leave soil exposed to the elements (starting a new seed bed etc.), but whenever possible keep your dirt covered with mulches or ground covers. The worms, organic matter and microorganisms in your soil will thank you.
Even if you use mulch, shade cloth and/or plant heat resistant crops at some point you’ll probably have to water. So to save money and other valuable resources, use a water catchment to collect water when it rains. This will give you a free water reserve to use in the gardens during dry periods.
Courtesy of gentleworld.org ©