Monday, August 15, 2022

Provide shade, make compost and leave the weeds: six ways to heatproof your garden


I suggest reading the whole article.  Lots of good info.


Alys Fowler
Mon 15 Aug 2022 05.00 EDT


The next heatwave might last for longer. It might arrive with stronger winds, or leave behind wilder, wetter days. The winter will present its own challenges – more flooding, perhaps, as baked-hard soils struggle to soak up the rain. We need to prepare; this weather isn’t going away. The question is: how?

Heatproofing your garden begins before you step foot in it. Our gardens, their inhabitants, our world, is under threat because of rampant fossil-fuel usage and yet some of the biggest polluters are unwittingly bankrolled by us, through our current accounts, mortgages and savings. Choosing a bank that is committed and transparent about tackling the climate crisis should be high on your to-do list. Tell your old bank why you are leaving; tell them that you are a gardener and it is your job to foster what is left. Then we can begin the good work of making sure our gardens are resilient enough to deal with whatever the weather throws at them.

It is easy to imagine that the simplest move migNoht be to replace the plants that failed with dry garden plants, those Mediterranean types that thrive in baked places with intense suns. But to grow these plants you need free-draining, low-nutrient soils that are made up of grit, gravel, rocks and sand – and the UK is not blessed with these.

[ Nor is Atlanta, GA]


Exposed soil is baked soil, devoid of life. Most vegetables like to grow in soils around the 20C to 25C mark (as do many microbes, for that matter). Left to bake in the sun, soil can easily reach a temperature in the high 40s. Mulches can make a huge difference, but leaf cover does an even better job, whether that is specific ground cover plants, such as clovers and trefoils for the vegetable garden, or something as simple as leaving weeds in place before a hot spell.

Soil that is protected by leaf cover doesn’t just help the plants, but the wildlife, too: it offers refuges for insects, frogs, small mammals and birds. During the July heatwave, my resident blackbird spent the whole time hopping about under the dense leaf cover of my garden.

Mulching in spring and autumn, to protect the soil from summer suns and winter rains, has always been good practice. But temporary or short-lived summer mulches are going to become much more important. Straw mulches, grass clippings, alfalfa meal and comfrey leaves can also be used around plants that have high water requirements and bare soil, such as tomatoes, strawberries, courgettes, pumpkins, aubergine, mangetout and runner beans. Water these plants well, deep into the soil, when it is cooler, then cover with a mulch. Comfrey leaves are particularly useful, as they have the added bonus of feeding the plants as they break down.


Don’t ever water your lawn; it is wasteful. Grass has evolved to die right back at the surface and reappear again in autumn when the weather is cooler and wetter. You will notice that lawns that are cut longer are much more resilient than those shorn to an inch of their life.


The single most significant thing you can do for your garden (after changing your bank) is to compost. It is an old idea – not quite as old as the soil in your garden; that took about 500 years to make – but it works. Organic matter acts like a sponge in the soil, soaking up water and releasing it slowly when it is needed.


No comments:

Post a Comment