Greetings everyone I hope all is well with everyone and that your gardens are ready to take off. This week I will cover some garden and home care tips.
The outlook is for high temperatures and moderate winds the next several days. This is not optimal planting weather but it can be done. Just take some extra care with starts and be ready to water seed beds a little more often. The wind and heat will dry things out quickly, and it’s not even officially summer yet.
Planting starts in extreme heat
Extreme heat is when the temperature is over 90° and/or the heat index is ≥95°.
1. Do as much planting as you can before 10 a.m.
2. Give each start extra water. Soak each start in a bucket of water before planting. Do not submerge the plant past its crown. Keep the water from getting too hot by changing often if need be.
3. Plant starts directly next to a drip irrigation emitter. Be sure to water the row of new starts well later the same evening.
4. Install cages or trellis systems not already in place as per your planting plan and actual spacing.
5. In extreme heat and drought, pelletized plant food is your best option. If that’s not available, apply diluted liquid fertilizer.
Watering the starts
Water the next evening after planting until the rows cannot hold any more water; when the water continues to run off the rows. Make sure to water at least 4 inches deep into the soil.
Once you have done this, wait to water the next time until the rows are about ¾ of the way dry. Make a note at that point in time. With this information you will have an idea how many days a week you will need to water. If you water too often the roots will not develop deep into the soil, and your ill plants will not be as strong or wind-resistant.
To get an accurate idea of how many inches of water you are precipitating onto your garden, place several tuna or cat food sized cans around the garden. Pay attention to how much they fill as you water. You should average about one inch per week. An inch in the can equals an inch in the ground.
If you use drip lines, the manufacturer usually includes the rate of flow in the packing. One inch every 10 hours over the entire length of drip line is typical.
Seeding Beds and Watering
Seeding beds should require the same amount of water as starts, but will need to be watered more often until the seeds germinate. Your beds should be moist but not muddy. Begin with hand watering or a sprinkler until the seedlings are 1 to 2 weeks old. Then switch to drip lines used if that’s your plan. Your lines should be in place before you seed.
For plants that have heavy water content, such as watermelon, you will not need to increase watering until the fruits start to form and are more than 3 inches in size. Then increase watering as needed to keep the ground moist, but not flooded or muddy,
Completely avoid watering squashes from overhead if you can. Mildew can cause production loss and end the squash season too early. This includes pumpkins.
Increasing the size of your squash
There is also an old wives’ tale that milk increases the size of pumpkins. This is not true. Any increase in size and weight is pure coincidence. A good plant and vegetable food is all you need to increase the size of your produce. Apply in a granular or pellet form once for the season.
Squash need a lot of micronutrients, such as those found in a good compost or vegetable food. Be sure to read the label for specific application rates for the vegetables you are growing. Keep in mind that your greatest challenge in growing squash will be the weeds. Weeds will outcompete squash plants for nutrients and water two to one every time.
Save on cooling costs
There are some simple things you can do to reduce summertime cooling costs.
1. Change out an old analog thermostat.
2. Keep HVAC filters changed.
3. Seal off unused areas and rooms.
4. Install new insulated windows and seal existing windows.
5. Depending on location, a water heater can put off a lot of heat. Put on a water heater blanket to keep heat in the tank and out of the house. This will save you in the winter as well.
6. Adjust your A/C temperature up by two degrees and switch to Fan-Only in the late evening. This can save $100-$300 per season.
Summer is a great time to install additional insulation in your home. It’s an easier job when it’s warm out than when it’s cold. Nowadays it’s easier for a DIYer to install rolled fiberglass or rigid pink foam sheet insulation than it’s ever been.
Of course, blown-in or sprayed-in insulation products are the best. For these I really recommend using a contractor as the equipment rental cost is high that you don’t really save much over doing it yourself.