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Garden Heat Alert

    Farm & Garden    May 9, 2019

Yesterday in many gardens in the region it was suddenly very warm, even hot for this time of year. More of the same is predicted for the next couple of days with inland gardens and those in the most protected sites possibly experiencing highs of 29oC (84oF) today and tomorrow so take steps this morning if possible to shade seedbeds and seedlings. This is the worst time of year for veggie gardens to have hot weather because plants are small and their roots are close to the surface. Without shading from leaves, their roots are likely to fry in the hot soil. If you can, lay down at least a thin layer of mulch right now too. Grass clippings are particularly good right for this purpose since they are soft and it is easier to spread them around seedlings without damaging the small plants. Old leaves from last year are very brittle and are easy to crushed up to make a fine mulch.

It is impossible to keep seedbeds evenly moist all day, but even if you could, high temperatures inhibit germination of some seeds (carrots, lettuce, parsnips). SO, the easiest thing to do is cover the seedbeds to cool them. Anything opaque you have on hand works fine: newspaper, old beach towels, sheets or curtain fabric, even opaque white plastic bags (such the ones for compost or chicken feed). Just don’t use floating row cover/Remay as that is designed to keep in heat.

For small plants, and especially for newly sprouted seedlings, cover them with shade cloth (50% shade factor) or wooden lath frames or turn plastic seedlings trays (the ones with crisscross bottom) upside down over them. You can use curtain fabric or other opaque covers, but put them on in mid-morning and take them off in late afternoon so plants have some sun in the coolest part of the day.

And you may have noticed that is has been dry for weeks, without a likelihood of rain in the forecast for at least the next week. Check on your irrigation and soil moisture: raised beds dry out quickly and even perennial plants may start to need watering soon.

Hop to it, everybody!

Heat Burned Cucumbers

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