We’ve had a few extremely hot days lately and many gardens are certainly worse for wear.
For those who haven’t made any changes, maybe it’s time to think about hot weather defences for the rest of the summer.
There are simple and inexpensive methods to give plants protection and with a bit of planning, you’ll be ready for the heatwaves.
For those not in fire-prone areas, mulch well.
Apply a good thick layer of mulch over the soil to shield it from the sun and effectively reduce evaporation from the surface of the soil.
In areas where bushfires may be an issue mulching close to houses isn’t a great idea.
If you can’t apply mulch then apply more water.
Water your garden well before the sun gets hot, but if that isn’t an option water the night before which isn’t always recommended but if that’s the time you can water then that’s fine.
The disadvantages of watering at night are small in comparison to not watering at all.
During extreme heat some plants may need to be watered more than once each day, so be prepared for that.
One of the best defences is to provide additional shade.
There are lots of plants that can easily put up with hot weather but there are many that can’t.
Most gardeners like to plant new species in their gardens or have plants they know won’t take the heat – hydrangea for example.
With these types of plants and with most of the vegetable garden, additional shade on extremely hot days will be necessary.
I have a few plants in the garden that won’t survive days over 40 degrees Celsius.
I’ve made up a wire surround and a shade cloth cover to protect these plants and it’s working well.
If you have fences or walls near your heat-sensitive plants you can suspend shade cloth from them over the plants and secure the shade cloth to stop it blowing away.
Shade cloth offering 70 per cent or 90 per cent shading is preferable, but remember to remove it when the weather cools down.
The vegetable garden usually suffers on hot days, so a shade cloth cover will keep it producing all through summer.
If you can’t get to the nursery or can’t afford shade cloth, drape old sheets over your plants - it might look strange but it will do the trick.
I’ve seen beach umbrellas set up in gardens on hot days, not for the gardener but for the plants themselves - there are a lot of dedicated gardeners on the border.
If you’re not sure what Wodonga TAFE has to offer in 2019, go to www.wodongatafe.edu.au for a list of departments and courses.