Cooling it: Helping your veggies through intense summer heat

Getting a good harvest through the summer, particularly in areas where temperatures regularly rest above 90F (32.2C), can be challenging. Today, it’s 97 (36.1C) and still. I watered early in the morning. A thick layer of straw mulch covers the ground around all the vegetables, and shredded bark mulch protects the ornamentals, but it doesn’t feel like much help.

Seeing my plants droop in the heat makes me depressed. More importantly, heat-stressed plants are more susceptible to viruses, fungal diseases, and all sorts of nasty stuff. So today, in anticipation of these ghastly temperatures, I went spelunking in the shed and found the old patio umbrella and cast iron stand. I set them up on the southwestern corner of the raised bed, where the umbrella shades the beans, tomatoes, and some of the peppers from noon until sunset. They do get morning sun, as well as reflected light all day from the gravel paths close by.

It may sound ludicrous, but providing your vegetables just a tiny bit of shade, particularly from the afternoon heat, can make a big difference in their resiliency over the season. Give it a try.



5 thoughts on “Cooling it: Helping your veggies through intense summer heat

  1. A great idea to shade the vegetables, but I live on the side of a hill and it’s very windy. I think I’d take off like Mary Poppins if I tried to put up an umbrella!

  2. Most of my garden is too shady and the soil is full of roots, thanks to two big Norway maples. I’ve resorted to growing tomatoes in pots and have otherwise given up on vegetables. But — supreme irony — I’ve actually put up a “shade structure” made of an old clothes-drying rack and some curtains to shade several Himalayan blue poppy plants from the hot afternoon sun. Blue poppies aren’t really suitable in my garden — too dry and rooty — but those gorgeous, temperamental flowers are worth the struggle.

    • Oh, how wonderful for you! I think gardeners the world over wish they could grow the Himalayan blue poppy, but very few of us live in climates that accommodate it. I’m sure if I could grow them I would bend over backwards to provide whatever they wanted.

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