One thing I learned living in Florida is that the summer heat can really take a toll on your garden. Sure in Kansas I had seen the effects of a heat wave and drought on my poor potted plants but that had no prepared me to loose an entire garden bed to the pelting Florida sun on days nowhere near as hot as the heat wave that hit our home in Kansas. Or watching watermelons explode when going from summer rain to hot summer sun. I had to find out how to make my garden thrive in the summer heat.
Help your garden shine all summer long
The most important tool you will find for fighting off heat in your summer garden is MULCH. Mulch protects the roots and base of your plants, keeps the ground cooler, and traps water in the ground so your plants have plenty of water to pull from during the heat. To give my garden a thick mulch on a budget I pile on grass clippings and leaves before putting a thin layer of pretty mulch the neighbors will see. As it all breaks down it adds nutrients and organic matter to my garden making it better year after year.
Training your plants to dig deep roots by deep watering will help your plants thrive in the summer heat. Water with more water, less often to force roots to grow deeply. You can help make this easy by burying buckets and bottles with holes. For large areas like your lawn training the plants to need less water by using deep watering will make them more resilient to summer heat and drought. Your plants will grow deeper roots to reach the water in the ground.
The summer sun can really put your plants through the ringer. I remember the first time I watched my pepper plants go from lush and green to fried limp sadness after a sunny Florida day. I rigged the perfect shade after that by dropping flour sack towels we use as cloth diapers over tomato cages. Not old did they get dry and bleached by the sun they helped keep the worst of the sun off my plants while giving them enough to thrive. The local farm and garden store should carry shade cloth for this. Worst case you can pick it up off Amazon and two-day shipping should come fast enough to rescue your garden before the heatwave wipes it out. If you have not been hit by one yet grab some to keep on hand.
Give your garden plenty of nutrition will help it truly thrive despite the summer heat. Turning your kitchen scraps, yard waste and other odds and ends into compost will feed your garden with things you would normally throw away. Stop by your local Starbucks for free used coffee grounds to use in your garden. I use our coffee grounds, milk that has hit its peak, crushed egg shells for calcium, and banana peels right in the garden all season long letting it break down on it’s own.
Water and care for your garden at night. If you do this in the morning the water will evaporate before it can sink deep into the ground. If leaves are hit by the water they will fry in the sun much like a magnifying glass would do. By watering in the evening you allow your plants plenty of time to dry before the sun beats down on them. When my plants look like the day way harder the usual I give them a bit of extra water to help them bounce back.