A GROWING CONCERN: Summer gardening: The heat is on

Well finally, summer is here and “the livin’ is easy” — beautiful warm days, clear nights and even a comet.

But now we are in the dry period of the year, with little moisture being delivered by the clouds for months to come.

However, the season so far, has been near plant-perfect.

Just look how lush our flowers are, even though they have just been blasted by near record-breaking temperatures.

If a plant is in the proper location, hot days will not do harm by stressing out the plant.

It is the warm evenings in the upper seventies or eighties that cause the damage.

Here on the North Olympic Peninsula, even if we swelter and seek our fans — at night temperatures dip to a point where you might wake up chilled if you went to bed without a cover.

That is the secret to our lush gorgeous gardens and lawns — cool evenings and of course no harsh winters.

But these high temperatures require special care.

First and foremost, seek out dry, parched areas and thoroughly saturate them with water.

Even though I water daily, a few of my pots and baskets required extra watering or an evening drink.

Be on the lookout for soil separation between the pot or container and the soil ball.

As the soil dries out and shrinks, this gap allows water to pour rapidly through the pot or container with little moisture soaking into the root zone.

A multitude of successive, short spurts of water re-hydrates and solves this most common and detrimental hazard experienced during the hottest days of summer.

Water until these containers are heavy.

If you have planted any perennial items, water them deeply every 2 or 3 weeks till the end of September.

Their young root system is not fully developed and is inadequate for bringing up enough moisture on its own.

Give these new kids on the block a real break.

Water them often and deeply.

Otherwise the stress can easily stall and stunt their growth for years to come.

Feeding time

Now is an ideal time to re-fertilize most plants, especially those that get watered every day or two.

That frequent watering has leeched the valuable critical nutrients through the soil or root zone.

As we prepare to pass through August and into September and October — a period of excellent growing conditions — your plants will need a whole new season’s worth of food.

Unlike Florida or the Midwest, our mild climate gives us another 90 days or more of great growing weather.

Please feed the hungry little overachievers that are blooming and growing all over your yard.

Let’s spend some time talking about the whole new season that starts with August.

The next three months are ideal for your garden.

Planting

Plant new sweet peas, sow broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions, kohlrabi, beans, peas and chard, etc.

Your best harvest in the cool, dew-heavy mornings are yet to come.

As flowers give up the ghost, wither or deteriorate, go to the various plant outlets and buy fall-flowering specimens.

If placed in the ground during August, grasses, fall foliage, trees, shrubs, mums, kales and perennials will sprout new roots, only to be bigger and better next year.

Just water deeply, not during the heat of the day nor at night.

It is not hard being green and lush on the North Olympic Peninsula, even during a tropical heatwave.

Next week I will give you an extensive list of plants famous for their fall display.

So for now, enjoy summer and the sun. And above all — stay well all.

________

Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email [email protected] (subject line: Andrew May).

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