Helping veggies cope with hot temps

KUSA - Very hot temperatures combined with increased humidity are creating issues with some vegetables. Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to help plants get through the heat wave.

Two ways to minimize heat stress:

1) Proper watering is critical to help plants cope with heat. Plants can 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 and water when it starts to dry. The goal is to water regularly when the plants need it to prevent stress and wilt.

2) Adding mulch helps soil retain moisture. High temps suck the soil dry and mulch helps the soil hold on to the water you apply so it's available to the roots. Common mulches include wood, straw and even newspaper. And new research is indicating that compost is actually the best form of mulch you can use. This year, in the 9NEWS Kitchen Garden, we're applying about three inches of compost instead of mulch – and we'll monitor the results throughout the season.

Blight on tomatoes 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 throughout the plant.

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 affected 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 six to eight inches of branches at the base of the plant so there is little or no foliage touching the soil. This type of pruning helps mitigate the humid conditions around the plant that promote blight.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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