Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Beat the Heat with Hot Weather Gardening Tips

I don't know about you, but I'm not a huge fan of hot weather. Why did I move to the south, you ask? Peace, quiet, gorgeous area...and room to garden, plus a longer gardening season. But the trade off? 90+ degree days in June. June!

The garden beckons, and with all the thunderstorms over the past two weeks and approximately 2 inches of rain per week, the plants are flourishing. Unfortunately, so too are the weeds. I've got weeds growing on top of weeds. The tomatoes need to be staked, the asparagus need to be staked, the remaining lettuce pulled...and I'm delaying all of this because of the heat. I'd rather stay cool in my air conditioned office and write about gardening than venture into the oven known as south central Virginia in summer and pull a few weeds!

There are ways, however, that you can stay cool in the gardening while you work. Most are common sense, but they bear repeating:

  1. Use the early morning hours from dawn until about 10 a.m. to your advantage. If your garden is shady during these hours, it should stay pleasantly cool.
  2. If you can't garden in the early morning hours, try gardening in the evening just before and after sunset. Wear plenty of mosquito repellent!
  3. Wear a hat, loose clothing, and light-colored clothing. Think of how people in desert climates dress - they dress to cool their bodies and allow perspiration to evaporate.
  4. Drink plenty of water. Keep a water bottle with you in the garden and stop frequently for water breaks.
  5. If you must garden during the heat of the day, take plenty of breaks. Sit in the shade for a while or go back inside to cool off, take a drink of cold water, and rest for a bit before returning to your work.
Gardening during the summer months can be a sticky venture, but with these tips, you can "keep your cool" and enjoy your garden.

Monday, June 1, 2015

June Gardening Tasks

June is the month when Virginia gardeners can breathe a little sigh of relief, kick off their shoes, and relax on the chaise lounge with a sweet tea, admiring their handiwork. The hard-work days of May have passed, and the HHH days of July - that's hazy, hot and humid - are still a dream away. But before you put away your trowel and spade, it's time for a few more tasks.

June Gardening Tasks

  • Look for bare spots in the garden, and fill them in with the annual flowering plants.
  • Stake or cage your tomato plants to give them extra support.
  • Plant marigolds around tomato plants to help repel the tomato hornworm.
  • Harvest the last of your spring vegetables, and prepare the garden bed for your next crop by adding compost.
  • Japanese beetles make their appearance in June. The best offense is a good defense. Practice year-round integrated pest management to control for Japanese beetles at every stage of their growth.
  • This is your last chance to mark where your fall bulbs are planted, because in a few days or weeks, the tulips, daffodils and crocus will be but a memory. If you, like me, tend to dig up your bulbs accidentally, use plant markers to note where each is buried.
  • Weed regularly and apply mulch to suppress weeds and retain moisture.
  • Don't compost your weeds. Some may contain seeds. If you compost them, the compost pile's warmth might not be enough to kill the weed seeds, and they can spread further into your garden.
Enjoy your garden this June...and don't forget to water!