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Houston gardening expert shares 5 tips to help your garden survive a hot summer

HOUSTON – Keeping a garden growing and thriving during the hot summer months can be a real challenge.

From what to plant now to watering instructions, garden expert Angela Chandler shares her top 5 tips to improve your garden and keep it strong.

1. Water properly – many people don’t!

Remember frequent, shorter watering cycles cause plants to form to shallow roots that are susceptible to drying out.

What you should do is water slowly and deeply to encourage deeper roots and more resilient plants. Also, water less frequently as plant roots adapt. Water the roots, not the trunks and keep water off leaves to prevent fungal diseases. You should always water early in the morning when temperatures are cooler. This reduces evaporation and allows plants time to uptake water before the heat of the day.  The next best time is late evening when it cools back down.

2. Time now for Fall tomatoes  

It may be hot, but it’s time to plant tomatoes for a fall crop.

To get started plant seeds now or “bump up” small transplants in containers and shade them lightly. Then set transplants out in August or early September. Be sure to become a weather watcher; light shade if too hot, light cover when too cold.

3. Basil loves it hot! Pollinators love basil!

Basils come in wonderful flavors: classic Italian basils, Thai basil, lemon basil, dark opal basil.

Your basil plant will produce until the first frost. Even if you do not cook with basil, pollinators love it.  Let it go to bloom and support the “essential partnership” with pollinating insects.

4. Plants get stressed, too!

Heat is a stress factor and when we get hot, we need additional electrolytes, minerals that conduct electricity in the body. Plants need these minerals, too!

Deficiencies can lead to signs of stress such as yellowing, weakness, and increased susceptibility to insects and disease. One solution is foliar feeding. It’s a fast way to get minerals into the tissues of a plant. They absorb minor minerals quickly through their leaves.

There are several good products you can use to foliar feed. They work if you spray until the liquid drips off the leaves and then spray the undersides of the leaves.

5. A hydrated gardener is a happy gardener.

Before you do anything outside during the summertime, be safe and stay hydrated.

You can garden in the heat of summer as long as you follow a few hot weather protocols: Hydrate BEFORE you go out, don’t wait until you are thirsty.

Wear a wide brimmed hat and follow the shade: choose shadier spots depending on sun exposure.

Garden early in the morning, and late in the evening. Stay inside in the heat of the day and rehydrate! Come in by 10:00 a.m., go out after 6:00 p.m.

To connect with Angela, visit www.thegardenacademy.com.