This week's gardening tips from the Savvygardener.

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July 19, 2006

Now This is Hot...
I guess I'll start with the obvious, it is unbearable outside. UGH! I mowed the lawn this morning. I started at 8:00 AM. I wanted to start earlier but was trying to be considerate of those neighbors who still might be sleeping. I finished the front and was drenched with sweat. Drenched as in "step out of the shower" drenched. YUCK! The backyard is going to have to wait until tomorrow evening. The thought of trying to finish it today was too much. Hopefully I will feel up to the task tomorrow.

The good news. We are supposed to see a bit of a break late tomorrow evening. Friday is only supposed to be 89˚. A cold front (Ha!) is moving through and I am excited to say that temperatures will be in the high 80's. Yeah! Looking forward to it. I am sure compared to the last several days it will feel quite refreshing.

Stay cool and please listen to your body while outside. Drink plenty of water and wear sunscreen as well as protection for your head. Keeping the heat off your head and face will help to keep the body cool.

~ Shelly  

Beat The Heat...
We're supposed to get a break from this really hot weather in a day or two. Still it's good to remember that exposure to too much hot weather can be dangerous.  Here are some tips to help you beat the heat:

  • Tasks that occur outdoors in sunny areas should be done in early morning or late afternoon whenever possible, not during the midday heat. Most watering, pruning, dead heading, etc., is better for plants when done in early morning. Many chemicals, especially insecticides, are better applied late in the day when the wind is down and beneficial insects are not present.
  • Allow yourself to acclimate to the heat slowly. Over a period of a week or two, gradually increase the amount of time spent in hot, still areas or in direct sun.
  • Be sure to stay hydrated, drinking as many liquids as possible. Don't wait until you are thirsty to have a drink, as thirst is an indicator that your body is already dehydrated. Water is preferred, except when heat cramps occur (then drink a lightly salted beverage like a sports drink). The water's temperature should be cool, not cold.
  • Though tempting, do not work in the yard in a tank top or without a shirt due to the potential for sunburn and skin cancer. Wear loose fitting, light colored clothes. Keep the fabric content high in cotton to aid sweat evaporation. Neckbands, headbands, wristbands, visors, and hats can increase evaporation to keep the body cool.
  • Lastly, take frequent breaks to reduce the amount of time spent in the sun or heat. After working for an hour, take a break to cool down and have a drink in the shade to reduce the build up of heat stress on your body.


Drinks For The Droopy?
It's not uncommon to venture out to the garden at the end of a hot day to find some pretty droopy plants.  Don't immediately assume that they need to be watered.  It may be that there is adequate moisture in the soil but your plant's roots just can't keep up with the needs of the leaves.  If the soil is already moist you are better off letting the plants catch up on their own overnight.  If they're still droopy in the morning give them a drink.

Houseplants, Douse Plants...
This is a great time of year to take your houseplants outside for a bath. Insect and mite populations can sometimes creep up on you this time of year, but not to worry. Take houseplants outside and gently hose them off. This will not only wash away harmful pests, but will remove dust from the leaf surfaces and leave plant pores cleaner and able to breathe easier.


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Get More Blooms...
Deadheading roses and annuals such as petunias, marigolds, and zinnias will promote reblooming throughout the season. You can fool biannuals, like hollyhocks and foxglove, into thinking they are perennials by cutting off the old blossoms before seed pods form.

To deadhead a rose, cut the flower stem back to an outward facing bud just above a 5- leaflet or 7- leaflet leaf.  For most other flowers simply cut the stem just below the spent bloom.

Sweet & Corny...
Corn lovers know that standard sweet corn is at its peak for only a day or so (supersweet corn maintains its peak quality for a little longer).  Timing is everything.  For the sweetest corn harvest when silks begin to dry, and kernels exude a milky (rather than watery or doughy) juice when punctured.

Orange Means Hot...
This heat is going to affect tomato harvests.  Tomatoes ripen best when temperatures stay below eighty-five degrees.  When the temperatures hover in the mid-nineties several problems can occur.  The ripening process slows down and color compounds do not form properly.  Instead of a bright red tomato you may wind up with an orange-red one.  Try picking the tomatoes at the first flush of color and ripening them indoors.


Ozone, Mow Zone...
Small gasoline engines like those found on lawnmowers, weed whackers and leaf blowers lack pollution controls. According to the Mid-America Regional Council the average lawnmower produces as much pollution in one hour as forty late-model cars!  Do yourself, and your fellow gardeners, a favor by not mowing on ozone alert days.  If you have to mow, try to do it after 7 PM.


"Hot July brings cooling showers,
Apricots and gillyflowers."

~ Sara Coleridge

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