Heat Wave Precautions for Gardeners and Plants

BY AMANDA MOSES

The summer heat wave has already scorched New Yorkers this month, leaving us all feeling fa-tigued and drained. Just like us, plants also experience heat stress. 

Garden Educator, Jacqui Roytman always uses safeguards for taking special care of those working in the Spring Creek Recreational Fund’s (SCRF) Urban Garden Classroom (UGC) and the plants growing during the sweltering weather.  

The hottest part of a summer’s day is in the afternoon, so Roytman makes sure to get all of her garden maintenance finished before the temperatures are too high. During these hot days, it’s important to keep plants hydrated by watering them every day. If not properly watered, plants will wither and turn brown. Roytman says she waters in the early morning or evening because the hottest points of the summer occur in the midday, so any watering done at that time will evaporate before it reaches the roots because of the heat. Likewise, overwatering can damage plants so it’s important to pay attention to the weather patterns. For example, if it rained then there is no need to over water the plants.

Roytman usually starts her day very early in the morning, and takes precautions when working in the heat. She puts on sunscreen to protect her skin, wears a hat to keep her head cool, and drinks plenty of water to stay hydrated. Another important factor to gardening is dressing for the weather. On hot days, it’s best to wear light clothes, yet rugged clothes that will withstand the grit of gardening and still have breath-able material. Cotton and light colors are the best things to wear in the heat. Some gardeners enjoy wearing tank tops while others prefer an airy white blouse with a pair of stretchy jeans for comfort and movability. There are some people who choose to wear shorts, but gardening requires kneeling on the ground so it’s best to keep your knees protected with material or knee pads. Others might want to wear large sun hats to protect their faces from the heat.

Another precaution Roytman follows is to make sure she takes breaks in the shade. If she feels like she is overexerting herself in the heat, she stops, sits in the shade to cool down, and drinks plenty of water. Just like she examines the plants to see what they need, she also makes sure she pays attention to her body.
This summer Roytman expects to have a lot of fresh herbs, such as basil, oregano, mint, thyme, rosemary, and lavender. She also is excited to see the three sister garden flourish, which is filled with corn, beans, and squash. In addition, there are eggplants, zucchini, nasturtium, Swiss Chard, collard greens, callaloo, and so much more growing in the garden beds.

Photos by Amanda Moses