The Daley News
Beat the Heat this Summer
Summer has been breaking all the historical records this year with hot dry conditions over much of the country. Many regions are under water restrictions and for some people, the water in their tanks is running low. As keen gardeners this can be a very challenging time, but there are things we can all do to get through the summer, and ensure that your precious plants beat the heat.
If you are purchasing new plants in the heat of summer they will need some time to acclimatize to your environment and if the weather is extreme, as it has been this summer they may need to be given a sheltered position until the risks of severe heat passes. Position your pots on the eastern side of a building where they will get morning sun but protection from the very harsh afternoon sun.
You can pot your plants up into a pot that is twice the volume of the original pot, this will keep your trees growing until you are ready to plant them out. Place the pots in a shallow dish or drip tray. Use coconut coir peat mixed into a good quality potting mix for the best results. Any excess water that runs through the mix when it is watered will then be absorbed by the tree during the heat of the day, ideally the drip tray should have no more than 1cm in the water and the plant should use this moisture during the day. This will prevent your trees from suffering and wilting in the heat of the day. Recycled foam boxes can be ideal for this purpose and will also act as a shelter for your pot plants. Poke a hole in the side of the box, 1cm from the base, this will allow the box to drain while the foam will insulate your pots from the hot sun.
After the summer heatwaves have passed you can prepare to plant your trees, make sure you sun harden them before planting them into their final position. Reintroduce them to full sun for a week or so before you plant them out.
Water is life and just as we need to drink plenty of water on a hot day your fruit trees and garden plants are going to need to do the same. Take advantage of the cool of the day, early in the morning or late in the day as the sun sets, to water your thirsty garden. You will enjoy this time in the garden and it will be the best time to get the most out of the water you use. During very hot weather you may need to water daily. Watch your plants for any signs of stress such as wilting and feel the soil or potting mix with your hands to test how moist it is.
There are also products on the market that will help you to maximize your water usage. Wetting agent will help the water to penetrate the soil and potting mix, ensuring it reaches the roots where it is needed the most and it will help to give your plants time to take it up. Coconut Coir Peat is another fantastic product, added to your potting mix for potted plants or to your garden soil, it helps to improve the water holding capacity and structure of the soil, coir can absorb 8 - 10 times its volume in water giving your potting mix a reserve of water. Adding it to your potting mix will help to maintain a consistant level of moisture while at the same time it adds air filled porosity to the mix, essential for healthy roots and ensuring the good drainage that all plants require. Coir is the foundation of all our potting mix blends here at Daley's Nursery and we consider it an essential growing medium for all plants. Potting mixes that do not contain coir can become water repellant if they are allowed to dry out, this will mean that any water you give your tree will run away before the roots have a chance to soak it up. If you find that you are watering regularly but your plants are always thirsty you may need to soak your pots to rewet the mix. Dunk the whole pot into a bucket of water for a few moment, until the bubbles stop rising. This will rewet your potting mix and help to make your water more effective.
Mulch is another summer essential. It suppresses weeds, reducing competition for your plants and it helps to retain the moisture in your soil. Use a healthy layer of organic mulch that will also break down, adding nutrients to the soil as it decomposes.
If you are planting your new trees out into their final position during the summer months remember to protect and nurture them until they are well established. Construct a shade house around them to give them time to settle in and monitor the moisture in the soil. It can be very helpful to feel the soil in around the roots to ensure that the water you are pouring on your plants is penetrating the soil and once again use wetting agents if there is not rain on the horizon.