The conditions in a Perth Summer can be brutal, sapping the life out of everything in our gardens! The Summer of 2021-2022 saw five super-hot periods of weather over 40C which left some veggie gardeners in despair.
Hot weather dries out the top layers of the soil, which is where a lot of the important microbial life is, and Perth's sandy soil quickly becomes hydrophobic.
Here are some top tips for increasing your success rates in your Summer veggie garden:
1. Set up wicking beds (there are lots of Youtube videos on this) or use a self watering pot like the Greensmart pot.
2. Grow your veggies close to the kitchen so you can keep a close eye on them when you are at home. If you see them flagging on a hot day you can make a quick mercy dash outside to water them!
3. Use taller plants and trees, a veranda or shade cloth to protect plants from afternoon sun. Consider the radiant heat reflecting off fences, pavers and rocks too. Raised beds made from metal will also absorb a lot of heat into the soil. Clad metal raised beds with shade cloth or timber to reduce the soil temperatures.
4. Regular applications of a seaweed tonic will encourage strong root development and protect plants from heat stress to some extent. We sell liquid seaweed solution or dry kelp that you can add to water yourself and is plastic free.
5. Where possible, hand water plants so you can pay special attention to those that are looking dry. A watering wand which directs water from a hose to the root zone is a great investment for your waterwise garden.
6. Where retic is used, focus on watering at the root zone rather than foliage for maximal water uptake.
7. Mulch well to retain as much moisture as possible in the soil.
8. Build good soil through compostand manure application, or buy in a good quality veggie mix. Aim for a dark, loamy soil - cheap soils will usually be sandy and won't hold water well.
9. Adding charcoalto your soil will help to reduce water repellency. Charcoal is highly absorbent and also acts as a permanent source of carbon in the soil. It is also hugely beneficial for microbes and nutrient holding.
10. Water in the early morning or late evening to reduce evaporation.
11. Planting veggies close together will help to keep them cool on hot days.
What are your top tips for surviving Summer in the veggie garden? We would love you to share them in the comments below.