August Gardening Tips for a Dry Summer
Droughts and heat waves are serious matters for everyone, but they break gardeners’ hearts. Now it is August, and this year has been a tough one for vegetables, flowers and lawns alike. Here are some tips for maintaining your garden in weather conditions that are less than ideal.
Conserve and save water where ever you can
Even though most of the Niagara Region has been experiencing drought conditions for months, there is no water shortage. Gardeners have not been asked to restrict their usage. However, the cost of city water has made daily watering a prohibitive luxury for many. While there have been some deluges, the ground has been so dry and exhausted that the rain has just run off into the gutters. Capture whatever you can in rain barrels and use it judiciously.
You might also consider taking out buckets of used dish water or bath water after dusk or in the early morning to nurture your plants.
Mulch and cover
Mulch and other covers will help the soil retain some moisture under the intense heat of the sun.
Cut and clear dead matter
The patches of dead, brown leaves and plants are not just depressing, they can also represent a fire hazard. Clear them out when the sun is low and hope the remaining plants will have better access to what moisture there is.
Think of the birds and bees
While using your precious and clean water, remember the debt all gardeners owe to the birds and bees. Bird baths need daily refreshing and cleaning, while a bowl or shallow dish of stones and pebbles that is covered with water to keep them damp will give bees a place to refresh themselves.
Consider row covers or shade cloth
Rows of vegetables and fruits might benefit from some temporary shade cloth during the hottest hours of the day. Think of row covers or shade cloth as a canopy for vulnerable tender plants such as salad greens.
Take heart and gather seed
In this intense heat, many plants such as herbs and greens are going to seed earlier in the season than usual. Start keeping watch to gather the strong seeds that represent the hope of future gardens and the legacy of this season’s plants that gifted us their future after a season of harsh conditions.
Photo Credit – Dunkley’s Garden in Welland, Ontario (Niagara). Mrs. Dunkley says she has to clean and refill the bird bath out a couple times a day because the birds love it so much!