I've done very little in the garden this week due to the heat. I'm not very good at handling very hot weather, so for me this week has been about staying out of the sun and keeping cool. However, the garden doesn't get a choice and some of the plants are starting to wilt even though I'm trying to keep everything watered.
So here's my tips for keeping on top of things during the heat, especially if (like me) you have a dreaded water meter.
1. Water in the early morning and/or evening. If you water midday it won't harm the plants will you'll lose some of the water due to evaporation.
2. Use 'recycled water' if you can - bath water, water left in the sink after washing a couple of dishes, and especially paddling pool water that has been used by the kids but is now full of grass and insects.
3. Don't water the lawn. Just don't. It will recover when it eventually starts raining anyway, grass is fairly robust like that. As it turns out, my small lawn is currently dominated by a teenager-sized inflatable pool so that solves that problem!
4. Water hanging baskets and plants in pots first as they will struggle the most during hot spells. Move them into a shadier area to prevent them drying out too quickly.
5. Next, water any newly planted shrubs or flowers that need to establish their roots. I'm also keeping my dahlias watered because they've just started flowering and are stunning, as well as a newly planted echinacea and the rambling rose which is so beautiful but has been wilting a bit.
6. If you're growing any summer vegetables in pots or raised beds these will also need some attention to prevent their fruits perishing. Surface rooting plants such as tomatoes, lettuce and peppers will wilt very quickly if they're starved of water.
Deeper rooted vegetables such as carrots and potatoes will be more resilient, but put some mulch around them to keep any moisture in.
I've been watering my peppers, cucumbers and chillies twice a day to keep them from dying and I've moved them to a spot that has a little less of the midday sun.
And, thinking ahead:
- install a water butt to capture rain water. Even the smallest of gardens (like mine) can accommodate one of those tall narrow butts. I'm adding this to my to-do-list for the garden, although it's likely to be the kiss of death for any future hot summers!
- get plenty of mulch down early on in the spring to keep the moisture locked into the soil.
And, don't forget to look after yourself too! Get plenty of water, wear a hat and sun-cream and take some breaks in the shade.
Good luck, and don't worry it will rain again one day...