Hot Weather Help for Gardens

When the weather heats up, plants need extra help. My mantra? “Mulch like crazy.”

Leaves1A few summers ago, in the heat of a Colorado July, I had to to leave my garden to present a xeriscape program to a master gardener group in the southwestern part of the state.

I fretted about how to keep the vegetable garden in good shape while I was away. I didn’t want to hire a garden sitter and there wasn’t time to hook up an automatic irrigation system. So I decided to implement the cheapest and easiest plan possible. I mulched like crazy.

All the bags of dry (untreated) grass and leaves that I raked from the front yard would finally come in handy.

Before I left on my trip, I deeply watered the vegetable bed that was filled with tomato, pepper, and squash plants. Then I took the dried grass and leaves and heaved great bunches onto the garden.

I smoothed it all out to about 4 inches thick, being careful not to let the grass touch any plant stems.

I took one last good look at the garden, just in case it wouldn’t look the same when I returned. The mulch was piled so high, it looked like a fluffy comforter on top of the garden.

The weather was hot and dry the entire time I was away and I was sure I’d find an entire garden of wilted plants when I returned home.

As soon as the car pulled into the driveway, I jumped out and raced to the backyard. I couldn’t believe what I saw.

Every plant was green and perky. Nothing was even slightly fazed by the days of hot, hot weather. It looked like the garden hadn’t missed me at all.

That’s when I learned the value of mulching like crazy. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to keep plants healthy during the heat of summer–and it conserves water in the process.

If you add a thick layer of mulch to your vegetable bed, be sure the grass hasn’t been treated with any herbicides.

If using fresh grass clippings, spread the grass in thin layers so it can dry thoroughly before adding more layers.

Then make a note to save all your fallen leaves for next summer.


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