Landscape Logic column: Help your garden cope with the heat wave | VailDaily.com
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Landscape Logic column: Help your garden cope with the heat wave

Very hot temperatures combined with more humidity than usual are creating stress and other issues in some gardens in Eagle County.

The good news is there are simple things you can do to help plants get through the heat wave.

MINIMIZE HEAT STRESS

Here are two ways to help minimize heat stress in your garden:

• Proper watering is critical to help plants cope with heat. Plants can feel stress in the heat just like people do and consistent watering is critical to keep plants out of a vicious cycle of stress and recovery. Check the soil moisture more often than usual and water when it starts to dry.

• Adding mulch helps soil retain moisture. High temperatures can suck the soil dry, but mulch helps the soil hold on to the water you apply, keeping it available for the plant’s roots. Common mulches include wood, straw and even newspaper. New research is indicating that compost is also effective as mulch when applied 2 to 3 inches deep.

HOW TO AVOID FUNGUS ON PLANTS

Blight is another weather-related issue

The heat combined with higher humidity this year is leading to blight – a fungus problem. It is most common on tomatoes, but can sometimes impact peppers and eggplant.

It shows up first on lower leaves as dark spots, progresses to browning leaves and can quickly kill the plant. Rainy weather and overhead irrigation can spread the spores within one plant and also to other plants.

Here are some tips for dealing with blight:

• Check plants for spots on a regular basis — every few days is best.

• If you see spots on leaves, pinch off the leaves.

• Discard the leaves and do not put them into the compost pile.

• Prune lower branches to open up the plant so it gets more air circulating through it. Trim away the lowest 6 to 8 inches of branches at the base of tomatoes so there is little or no foliage touching the soil. This type of pruning helps mitigate the humid conditions that promote blight.

• Using a tomato cage or trellis to support branches also improves air circulation and is recommended by scientists at Colorado State University.

• If overhead irrigation (spray irrigation) is used, water early in the morning so that leaves can dry out more quickly from sunshine and warmer temperatures.

• Drip irrigation prevents splashing water that will spread disease spores.

• Keep the garden weed free, as weeds often harbor many diseases, including blight.

Growing veggies is a sustainable and healthy use of resources. And the more you apply sustainable landscape principles to your gardening effort, the more good you do for your own garden, your neighborhood and even our planet through conserving resources.

Keep gardening sustainably — it’s good for us all!

Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.


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