Just like you wear hats and sunscreen when it starts to get warm and sunny, plants need their own form of protection from the sun. Here are some tried and true ways to keep your plants comfortably producing in the Spring and Summer heat.
1. Shade Cloth
Shade cloth is an excellent way to give plants less direct sunlight. It is available in various percentages depending on sun exposure and plant needs. Each garden is unique in the amount of sun it gets and the plants that are planted, but there are some easy ways to tell which percentages work best. At Avalow, we focus on vegetables and edible plants. For example, tomatoes love sun but can experience overexposure and crack. As a general rule, 50% shade cloth is recommended for vegetables if the weather is forecasted to be sunny and above 85 degrees. The shade cloth should then be removed once the temperature goes back down.
Saving moisture is so important, especially during the hot spring and summer months. Mulching adds another protective layer to the top of your soil as a barrier between the drying sun. It takes more heat to warm up moist, mulch-covered soil than dry, bare soil so the garden temperature is lowered and the plants stay comfortable. We recommend mulching using a 1-inch layer of organic hay.
3. Companion Planting
Strategic planting can be helpful year-round, but especially in the heat. Planting something tall like sunflowers next to something that likes less heat or partial sun, like lettuce, is an excellent way to efficiently plan your garden and make the plants work for you. The sunflowers enjoy full sun while providing shade for more heat and sun-sensitive plants underneath. If you don't have a raised bed using sub-irrigation, putting plants with similar water needs next to each other can also help save water.