gar­den //

Be sure to check your plants are beat­ing the heat this sum­mer

Life & Style Weekend - - WELCOME // INSIDE TODAY - With Ma­ree Cur­ran

THESE next few months will con­tinue to be hot, un­til au­tumn brings its wel­come re­lief. So we need to make sure our plants have enough wa­ter to sur­vive the heat with­out too much dam­age. A plant suf­fer­ing from de­hy­dra­tion may de­velop brown or burnt patches on the leaves.

The leaves, new growth, flower buds or fruit may shrivel or drop pre­ma­turely. If it’s se­ri­ous, you may lose the plant.

There are a few things you can do to limit the dam­age. Start by adding a layer of or­ganic mat­ter such as ma­nure or com­post to your gar­den beds. Wa­ter that thor­oughly, then cover with a 5cm layer of mulch and wa­ter again.

Lots of gar­den­ers cover the vegie patch with a light shade cloth for the next few months. It can help re­duce wa­ter stress, and can pro­long the life of leafy greens and soft herbs like co­rian­der. These can bolt to seed and taste bit­ter in the hot weather. Keep them grow­ing strongly by feed­ing them ev­ery fort­night with an or­ganic liq­uid fer­tiliser.

Even well-es­tab­lished fruit trees will shed some of their bounty if they suf­fer heat stress. So make sure these are well mulched, and give them a deep wa­ter­ing ev­ery week or so if we haven’t had good soak­ing rain. Pot­ted plants and hang­ing bas­kets dry out very quickly, es­pe­cially if they are in a breezy place. A layer of mulch on the sur­face will help. The best way to wa­ter hang­ing bas­kets is to take them down and soak them thor­oughly by im­mers­ing them in a bucket of wa­ter.

Make sure the en­tire con­tainer is sub­merged, and keep it there un­til no more air bub­bles rise to the sur­face of the wa­ter. You can do this with other pot plants too.

You may need to wa­ter pot­ted plants twice a day in re­ally hot weather. You might want to move them to a less sunny po­si­tion for a while.

Wa­ter­ing is best done in the morn­ing, so plants are fully hy­drated to face the day. Sea­weed-based plant ton­ics can help plants sur­vive the heat, and can speed re­cov­ery if they suf­fer. So use a sea­weed so­lu­tion ev­ery fort­night, ap­ply­ing to the soil in the early morn­ing or late af­ter­noon.

Don’t fer­tilise too heav­ily dur­ing the next few months, be­cause new growth is soft and ten­der, and much more eas­ily dam­aged by heat.

If you do no­tice scorch dam­age, wait un­til the heat­wave has passed be­fore re­mov­ing it, be­cause any new growth that is trig­gered by the prun­ing will be even more vul­ner­a­ble.

And look af­ter your­self, too, if you are gar­den­ing in the heat. Try to work in the shade, drink plenty of wa­ter, and pro­tect your skin from sun dam­age.

Got a gar­den­ing question? Email ma­ree@ede­nat­by­ron.com.au

DON’ T LET HEAT STRESS AF­FECT YOUR PLANTS THIS SUM­MER

PHOTO: THINKSTOCK

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