Summer is only a week old, but it might as well be mid- to late-summer, when you factor in how hot and dry it is in most of the country. In the deep South, the terrible drought seems to be letting up somewhat, even while other areas of the USA are showing signs of drought setting in. Lots of factors are involved, and these are entirely normal fluctuations that any gardener must factor in. Learning ways to deal with low rainfall amounts and hot, dry soil are part of good farming skills.
Summertime Gardening: Heat and Drought Help
When summer heat is relentless, with little to no rainfall in sight, is it too late to figure out how to water? Not for the resourceful gardener! Remember this: it’s not how much water you apply to the garden, it’s how much you apply to, and keep around, the plant’s roots. Evaporation is not your friend. You want to get the water where it is needed most, and and in a drought or near-drought situation, that usually means you are watering from a water hose or bucket. There are a few tips that can help.
Water Garden Plants Carefully
Water in the late afternoon or evening, when the sun is off the soil – never water when the sun is on the soil (unless you have an endless supply of free water) as it evaporates too quickly to reach the roots that desperately need it. Some plants may be burned by the water on their leaves, as well. Watering late in the day allows the water to soak in where it’s needed the most and lets the plant take it up overnight. A word of caution here – Don’t get the plant’s leaves wet as you water: Wet leaves can cause disease to take hold, and mold to grow. Neither are good for proper plant growth and vegetable production.
When you water, don’t let the water only reach the upper few inches of soil, it must soak down to where the roots are. Healthy plants have deep roots, but shallow watering encourages the roots to “come up” to hunt the water, and the sun’s heat will soon harm the delicate roots that are close to the hot soil’s surface. A slow application of focused water allows it to soak in better than a large stream of water hurriedly spread all over the gardening area.