Anyone who has experienced a SoFlo summer can agree that the heat can get a little extreme, so it’s no surprise that our plants need some extra care from June until September. After all, our garden plants don’t have air-conditioned houses to sneak into after a long day outside, so they don’t have it quite as easy as we do! To make sure your plants don’t get scorched from the sun this summer, follow these simple tips for Fort Lauderdale gardeners.
Water Deeply, Regularly
Maintaining consistent moisture levels always leads to healthier plants! This is particularly important when it comes to vegetable gardening—the results will be much tastier if you keep your plants well-watered. Inconsistent watering can also cause some fruits and vegetables to split open, which makes them more susceptible to bacteria and fungus.
On top of following a consistent schedule, it’s important to water your plants deeply. Frequent, light watering won’t do as much good as less consistent, deep watering, because the sun can evaporate the soil moisture much quicker when it’s just hanging around the soil surface and hasn’t soaked deep down below.
Use Plenty Of All-Natural Mulch
To further maintain moisture levels and conserve water, apply a layer of mulch across the soil surface. Find one made from a natural material, like pine bark, that hasn’t been treated with chemicals or artificial colorants. This will help ensure that your soil’s natural balance of good bacteria won’t be disrupted.
By applying this layer of mulch, you’re effectively blocking out the sun, so moisture won’t dry up as quickly, and the soil will stay cooler. It also helps to prevent weeds from sprouting up, which are notorious from hogging all the soil nutrients and starving out surrounding plants.
Be On The Lookout For Garden Pests
With each season comes a different mix of annoying insects and pests, sneaking into our gardens to munch on our plants. Staying vigilant and checking for pests regularly means you’re more likely to catch an infestation in the early stages. Catching them early makes it easier to opt for natural solutions like soap spray, instead of resorting to the heavy-duty chemical solutions that can pose a threat to butterflies, bees, and our pets.
Watch out for common signs of pest infestation, such as yellowing leaves, insect eggs or droppings, holes or bite marks, sticky film, or white webbing. The most common summer garden pests to watch out for are:
- Chinch bugs
- Drywood termites
- Fire ants
Avoid Planting Cool Weather Crops
Lots of vegetables aren’t quite tough enough for our hot summers and prefer winter’s milder temperatures. Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower, or leafy greens like lettuce, kale, cabbage, and spinach, are better off if grown during the cooler months. In summer, try to stick to heat-loving veggies like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and sweet potatoes. If you’re ever unsure if a particular plant can be grown right away, don’t hesitate to ask one of our experts at Living Color!
Do Garden Transplants Early In The Morning
Hot soil can shock a plant’s roots and stress it out, and now is not the ideal time for plants to make a smooth adjustment. If you decide to plant now, you’ll need to put in some extra work to make the transition to the garden as smooth as possible. Ideally, you’ll want to do your transplants early in the morning before the sun has warmed up the ground. After planting, water the soil generously to help those roots establish, and to further insulate them from the oncoming heat. Make sure to keep new plantings consistently hydrated until they’re well-established.
Stay On Top Of Weed Pulling
As we mentioned before, weeds can be super greedy growers and tend to soak up soil nutrients shockingly fast, which can deprive your garden plants of the necessary food they need to grow. It’s especially important to maintain proper levels of soil nutrients in summer because, with all the extra watering you’re doing, a lot of that stuff gets drained out and washed away pretty fast.
Take a peek at the garden bed whenever you go to water, and pluck out the weeds as soon as you see them start to sprout up. The younger they are, the easier they are to pull up! Dispose of them instead of tossing the remains in the yard to prevent their seeds from spreading.
Use Compost Tea To Keep Soil Nutrient-Rich
Compost tea is a simple way to feed and water your garden all at once! Make a water-based solution of compost, strain out the gunk, fill up a watering can, and pour it all over the soil surface every few weeks. This will help to deliver a steady stream of nutrients and moisture to your plants and help keep your soil healthy, making your plants stronger and more resistant to pests and disease.
Looking for some heat-loving plants to add to the garden this summer? At Living Color, we’ve curated a massive collection of Florida-friendly plants that thrive in our hot, coastal climate. Shop with us in-store, or arrange for curbside pickup or delivery!