Summer time heat in the South is miserable and challenging.
Beating the heat with summer gardening, is even more challenging. It’s 87 degrees by 9:00am with a heat index of 115 degrees by lunch. If you didn’t know we live in Arkansas. The first couple of years we had a garden our plants shriveled up and died. Not all of them, because there are a few that like the heat, but most produced little fruit. Our garden was pathetic.
Watering daily just wasn’t cutting it, so we did a little research. We read a lot of blogs and books on gardening. But very few of those were geared toward southern heat. I’m not saying that to be racial or slandering in any form, it’s just that if you’ve never lived in the South you can’t possibly understand the feeling of make-up melting from your face. There is a reason the phrase “hot as Hades” originated from the South!
After trying what the books and blogs told us to do, we still were behind the curve. We would water and the sun dried up every drop. Leaves wilted, fruit split and it seemed we were failing all the way around.
One thing we’ve learned is that what works up north does not work down South. Most blogs and books we read said to water plants for about 15 minutes per day. They suggest an equivalent of a half inch of water as being enough to keep plants happy. It probably is up North.
But when you step out of the shower and can’t dry off because the heat index and humidity is so high, it really is a whole different ballgame.
Here’s 3 ways to beat the heat with summer gardening.
- Mulch, Mulch, Mulch: We mulch with compost and grass clippings. If you aren’t familiar with compost check that post out here. Mulch mainly keeps moisture in. When water seeps into the ground, the mulch is providing shade, if you will, from the sun. This keeps water from evaporating before the plants have time to absorb it.
- Water at Night: Watering at night allows the water to penetrate the ground and really be soaked up without competing against the sun. You don’t have to wait until the sun sets entirely, just make sure the sun is no longer over your garden. If you water during the day, the sun can scorch leaves that hold water, so watering at night is best.
- Water for 1 hour: This one really made a difference for us. After a 15 minute water didn’t do the trick, the following year we raised our watering time to 30 minutes. Our plants improved, but still struggled. Now we water for a solid hour. It sounds like a lot, but believe me it’s what these plants need to beat the heat.
We hope you’ll put these 3 ways to the test and let us know if they work for you. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to be self-sufficient. Keep trying new ways until you find what works for you.
Question: What ways do you beat the heat with summer gardening?