As the mercury rises, your garden confronts the challenge of heat stress. Understanding how various plants respond to heat and employing appropriate strategies to shield them from excessive temperatures are essential for ensuring their well-being. Heat stress often leads to wilting, particularly in leafy greens like lettuce and spinach. To counter this, provide shade during the hottest parts of the day and ensure consistent watering. For fruits like tomatoes, excessive heat can affect fruit setting, so consider mulching to regulate soil temperature. Embrace heat-tolerant varieties, and prep your garden by adding organic matter to the soil to improve water retention.

wilted squash plant
Wilted squash plant

Signs of heat stress include:

  • Leaf Curling: Look for wilting or curling leaves, especially on the edges, which is a common indicator of heat stress.
  • Discoloration: Changes in leaf colour, such as browning or yellowing, may signal that the plants are struggling with excessive heat.
  • Stunted Growth: If your plants are not reaching their expected height or appear smaller than usual, it could be a response to heat stress.

Mitigating Heat Stress:

  • Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch around plants to retain soil moisture, regulate temperature, and suppress weeds.
  • Proper Watering: Water deeply and consistently, preferably in the early morning or late evening, to minimise water loss and support plant hydration. Introducing wicking beds can be instrumental in maintaining a readily available water supply.
  • Shade Structures: Install shade cloth or create natural shading with taller plants to protect vulnerable crops from direct sunlight during peak hours.
  • Soil Moisture Management: Use soil moisture meters to monitor moisture levels and avoid overwatering or underwatering.
  • Incorporating perennials:  Consider incorporating perennials into your summer garden for a resilient and thriving landscape. Unlike annuals, perennials boast more established root systems, offering increased resilience during the heat. These well-rooted plants can better withstand water stress, making them ideal for maintaining garden vibrancy through the hottest months.

By recognising the signs of heat stress and implementing effective solutions like mulching and shade provision, you can keep your summer garden looking lush. Experiment with diverse heat-resistant crops, such as capsicum, sweet potatoes, okra, and zucchini, to create a productive garden that withstands the challenges of summer.