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Food gardening in summer heat

“Hot enough for you?”

That used to be a summer joke, right? I haven’t heard it in a while. We all know it’s way too hot out there. This time of year, with the heat and humidity and bugs and weeds, it’s a challenge even to step into the garden and do what needs to be done. But if we ignore our garden tasks they just get more overwhelming. I’m overwhelmed myself, but let me try to give you a few hints on making summer in the vegetable garden more bearable.

Even plants like eggplant that like the heat can fail to form flowers or fruits when it gets really hot. A little afternoon shade helps.

Help your garden by helping yourself first.

The last thing you and your garden need is for you to be felled by heatstroke! Here’s what to do to stay cool and safe:

The heat is tough on plants too.

Here are some plant problems that can arise in the summer, with links.

And more, I’m sorry to say. Heat-stressed plants are also more prone to insect damage and some diseases. To help your plants deal with summer:

I wrote in my last post about some of the challenges involved in getting fall crops started in the summer heat. (I am trying direct-sown rutabagas under shade cloth and lightweight insect netting. Fingers crossed.)

Plan ahead for next year.

Even if this year’s garden is a stressed-out weedy mess, please don’t give up! We’ve all been there. Here are some things to think about for next year’s garden that will make summer easier:

And finally, to make you feel cooler, here’s some interesting information about the phrase “cool as a cucumber.” And I heard a great podcast episode the other day about watermelons. Enjoy!

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By Erica Smith, Montgomery County Master Gardener. Read more by Erica.

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