Gardening Australia



Before the really hot weather arrives, think about how you’ll shade and protect your vegies on those sweltering summer days. Leafy greens, which have plenty of moisture in their leaves, are particular­ly vulnerable to heat stress, but other types of plants, such as tomato and capsicum, will also appreciate some protection.

Have some quick-fix remedies ready in case the heat arrives with a rush.

Old umbrellas are ideal for this job. Saw off any knobby bases or handles so the slender shaft can be slipped into or over set-in-place vertical water pipes, lengths of plastic conduit or steel rods. Another quick fix is to throw some old towels over strategica­lly placed tomato stakes.

A longer-term suggestion for areas with consistent­ly high temperatur­es is to set up support frames around vegie beds and cover them with shadecloth (above), ideally with 30 per cent shade factor. If it’s hard to find, 50 per cent can be used, but it should be removed as soon as the heat starts to fade, otherwise plants will elongate as they reach for the light.

In addition to providing shade, apply seaweed solution every couple of weeks to strengthen the plants’ cell walls and help them cope with the inevitable heat.

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