Beat the Heat
No, global warming is not a myth, and although the most noticeable effects of climate change is the wild variations in the world’s weather there is no way to refute the point that the world is getting warmer year by year. Climate change is pushing climate plant zones further north (in the Northern Hemisphere) and here in Canada it’s very obvious what is going on just by looking around. Southern plant species which never existed before are starting to sprout up everywhere. The southernmost part of the British Columbia interior, for example, will soon be able to grow northern Mediterranean grapes!
Believe it or not, the way you water your plants can have a big effect on their ability to tolerate the heat. Standing and spraying down onto your garden is not recommended, as most of the water will evaporate before it hits the ground, and could carry any number of fungal diseases with it. The best way to water in the summer heat is with a soaker hose. A soaker hose distributes water slowly and evenly, delivering the moisture straight to the roots, while saving 60-70% on water consumption! Simply weave the hose around the base of the plants, and turn it on. As the water trickles out, it drains into the soil and gets to the root of the problem!
Checking the Soil
Not sure how much watering is enough? Just dig a hole! Grab your trowel and dig a hole near your plants roughly 4-6 inches deep. Take some soil from the bottom of the hole. If it feels moist, you know your garden is getting enough water. If it's dry, just water more. You'll have to do this a few times to get a feel for how much water the soil needs. And don't forget: the best time to water is in the morning. You'll lose less water to evaporation, and your plants will get a nice long drink to help them through the day!
On a hot day in the summer, nothing's more refreshing than a big serving of mulch. Yes, that's right! Mulching is a great way to keep your plants cool. It helps the soil retain moisture, and it keeps the weeds from coming up. Simply spread the mulch about 2-4 inches thick, and you're set for summer! Though any mulch will do, come Fall a good organic mulch will till easily into the soil.
Select Drought-Tolerant Plants
Another great way to beat the heat is to select drought-tolerant plants for your garden. Here's a list of plants that do well and look great under the hot sun:
- Lamb's Ear
- Purple Coneflower
- Blanket Flower
- Ornamental Grasses
- Black-Eyed Susans
If you're adding plants but are still unsure if they can withstand the steamy summer months, stay local! You can't go wrong with plant species that are native to your area.
Check the Sunset Magazine or US Government climate zone maps to determine your climate plant zone number. You may be surprised that you are in a warmer zone than you thought you were! Have a great summer, and stay cool!