Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Beating the Heat- Saving Spring Plants in Summer Heat

Here in North East Oklahoma it has been quite warm for March. It's been in the 80's for several weeks. While working in the garden yesterday I noticed that one variety of lettuce was bolting. Bolting means that the plant is going to seed.
This lettuce is bolting, note the long stem and beginning of flower head on top.
It starts, for lettuce, with a long shoot sticking up which will soon bear flowers and a huge amount of seeds. This made me wonder what are some better ways of keeping them cool, especially since it is in full sun. I have several beds around my yard, my old trusty one next to the house only gets a few hours of sun a day. Making it perfect for cool season crops in the heat of summer. Here are some tips to help your plants beat the heat of an early summer, or warm spring.

1. Water often. Try watering in the morning and evening, careful not to get it on leaves during the hottest part of the day. This helps keep the plant cool.
2. Shade netting. I have never tried this, but it sounds promising. I am thinking about using a sheet instead of buying something. Be sure and leave several inches above the plants for air circulation.
3. Mulching. If you have room to mulch around your plants this could be beneficial as it helps hold in moisture. My lettuce plants are much to close for this, I grow them as cut and come again lettuce, not heads.
4. Planting in the shade of another plant. Companion planting is an option. Try putting carrots in the shade of tomato's, or lettuce in the shade of a taller plant. This may not help out at this moment, but it will eventually. In Louise Riotte's book, Carrots Love Tomatoes, she mentions that peas grow well with cucumbers. I do think I will try this one.

What are some of your favorite tricks for saving your plants? Has any of these tips helped you in the past?

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