Taking care of the vegetable garden in the heat can take it’s toll, but there are a few things you can do to keep the food coming from your garden.
1) Plant heat-loving crops: Tomatoes, peppers, okra, melons, eggplant, sweet potatoes, and peppers (thus, the corny “hot chile in the city” title). Lettuce and broccoli and peas are great little English Garden staples. Have you looked at a globe and seen how close England is to Iceland? Replant those lovely crops in the early fall, but give them a rest right now, they are going to be done. Choose things that are grown near the Equator, that can take the heat–even if you can’t.
2) Check your garden every day when it is 90 or above. Plants will have stress, and a pest infestation or not enough moisture can kill them in a day.
3) Consider Neem Tree Oil as a pest control. Use sparingly and apply in the evening as beneficial bees and wasps are leaving the garden. Spraying in the evening is also better for the plants, so the sun does not scorch leaves after oil is applied to them. The Neem is only harmful to them when wet, but is a detractor to plant chewing bugs that land on your plants. I WOULD spray very diluted mix on tomatoes, which seem to be a more tender plant than others.
4) Continue care–foliar feeding with Worm Wine (TM) or homemade compost tea will keep the plants nutrition and anti-fungal strength high and help them resist pests as well.
5) Water with a soaker hose to keep soil borne disease at bay. Check the soil to see how dry it is 2-3 inches below the surface. On hot, windy days you may have to water every day. Watering this often is going to leach nutrients, so worm castings plus a small amount of alfalfa meal, or another all around good organic fertilizer will really help your plants thrive.
6) Expecting your plants to produce fruit over about 93 degrees is a lot to expect. They most likely will not produce during a heat wave. However, if you don’t give up on them and keep them healthy, the tropical garden plants will reward you with a wonderful Fall bounty once the temperatures become more tolerable.
7) Hose down—yourself that is;), as I am working in the heat, I use a hose to cool off my pulse points and stay cool. As a 3 time skin cancer surgery veteran, I must implore you to wear sunscreen and a wide brimmed hat to protect your face and neck. Drink plenty of fluids and take frequent breaks.
Take care of yourself and take care of your garden, Fall is only about 100 days away, not that I’m counting! Come see us at Texas Worm Ranch, we’re here for summer support.