Midwest Garden Guys

Plant and Lawn Heat Protection

SCOTT: Like it or not, the summer heat has blown into the area, Mike. With excessive heat, what proactive steps can we take to protect our plants?
MIKE: W A T E R!!! May was a dismal month for precipitation. It was the driest May in our area since the 1934 Dust Storm. This doesn’t mean that you have to trade in your laundry or your shower H2O usage in order to keep your lawn and garden alive. The standard watering program asks for approximately two inches of water applied to your lawn and garden weekly. If you can, try watering your lawn for approximately 20 minutes in each location. Inadequate watering can lead to stress, insect and fungus problems. 
SCOTT: Is that my stress or the plants? Just joking … Mulching the plant beds seems like an obvious way to help out too.
MIKE: Mulch has its pros and cons. It does help in retaining moisture in your soil. However, inadequate watering practices and a thick layer of mulch can lead to fungus problems such as powdery mildew. When it gets REALLY HOT outside, the water retained by mulch evaporates and that moisture moving up collects on the plant leaves. That’s a perfect environment for SCORCH and FUNGUS. So, it depends on how thick of a mulch layer you have. A thin layer is best.
SCOTT: I’ve learned that plants regulate heat themselves by intaking water and then releasing that water into the air. I bet you’d prescribe Mycorrhizae as a plant’s first aid, as it helps create a better root system that can handle the heat.
MIKE: Asperation is the plants mechanism needed to cool itself. If there isn’t an adequate root base, the plant cannot take in the needed nutrients transported by water, to enrich and protect itself, therefore, causing LEAF SCORCH and possible decline. An ample root base can help to avoid these damaging effects. I would rather a gardener use a fertilizer that contains Mycorrhizae before it is needed, however, late is better than not. Start applying a granular fertilizer like “PLANTONE” or “FLOWERTONE” and water it in.
SCOTT: Our lawns have a hard time letting us know when they are under watered, unlike wilting flowers or veggies which are easy to spot.
MIKE: One of the first signs that your lawn needs a drink is footsteps. If the Amazon delivery woman or mailman’s footsteps can be seen, meaning those blades are not popping right back up, you need to water!
SCOTT: I’ve heard that in the heat it’s best to do staggered, deep root watering for lawns, versus daily shallow watering.
MIKE: Although there are many schools of thought, I prefer mid-day watering. That’s when photosynthesis occurs and water for approximately 20 minutes in each location. I STRONGLY recommend an oscillating or impact sprinkler as hand watering is not as accurate and wasteful.
SCOTT: Remember, rain water is best for our plants’ growth. Treated tap water is not chemically balanced for lawns and veggies, so if you have some pull with Mother Nature … please ask for a nice, all-day rain!

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