Protecting your garden

Although we are nearing Autumn we are still in fact, in the height of summer and are faced with rising temperatures. Over this Bank Holiday weekend, we saw thermometers climb to over 30 degrees! Hot weather is tougher on plants than it is on people.

It’s easy to understand why, when you consider that our bodies contain about 60% water and most plants are 85-90% water. We all know what we need to do to stay safe in the heat for our families and our pets – but do you know what measures you can take to protect your garden?

Plants perspire 85% more than we do, and raised temperatures reduce the soil’s ability to absorb the fertiliser. Too much fertiliser can have the opposite effect and burn your plants. Seek out liquid fertilisers that have improved absorption in high temperatures.

You can also drought-proof your plants with an organic fertiliser that contains seaweed. Naturally occurring substances in seaweed such as Mannitol and Betaines are known to enable plants to cope better with a lack of rain.

Adjust your mower blades so you leave your grass slightly longer to ensure grass stems provide adequate shade for your soil. Do not rake the lawn afterward.

Adding lots of mulch, such as bark chips on borders, will also provide a barrier to cool the soil and hold moisture.

Water wisely. Sprinklers are an easy and effective option, but if you have a large area to water, a proper irrigation system to ensure even water distribution is likely the best course of action. Timing is important, early morning or late evening is the best time to water as it allows time for the water to soak into the soil before the sun’s heat speeds up evaporation and transpiration.

Be careful not to over-dig in hot weather when plants are struggling to get enough water. Practice a no-dig or limited-dig policy to minimise the loss of moisture from the surface of the soil.

What’s your soil like? Which way do your flower beds and vegetable patch face? Plant according to your findings. For instance, east-facing gardens tend to retain more moisture and good for plants such as primulas, whereas succulents and silver foliage plants such as lavender will thrive in west facing gardens or any hot, arid border.

In hot weather, heat-sensitive crops want protection from both heat and sun. Shade netting helps these plants in several ways. Most importantly, it keeps soil and air temperatures as much as 10 degrees cooler (lettuce seeds germinate poorly in soil temperature higher than 70 degrees). Shade netting also protects tender foliage from being scorched by intense sunlight and reduces moisture loss. For best results, suspend the shade netting several inches above your crops, letting it rest on wire or adjustable steel hoops, or a wooden frame.

Here is a list of crops that cannot tolerate hot weather:

  • Kale
  • Swiss Chard
  • Cauliflower
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Peas
  • Broccoli
  • Kohlrabi
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Radishes

We wish you the best of luck in protecting your garden this summer.

The Myhills team