Keep the bird bath topped up in hot weather

Keep the bird bath topped up in hot weather

Well, yesterday was St. Swithin’s day and folk lore decrees that the weather on that day sets the pattern for the next 40, so we can ‘look forward’ to days in the mid to upper 20’s Celsius (and warm nights too):

‘St. Swithin’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ’twill rain nae mair.’

dost = does
thou = you
nae mair = no more.

And the forecasters seem to be saying this hot weather is likely to continue for the next couple  of weeks at least. So how can we care for the fragile eco systems that are our gardens? It’s all about moisture- using it wisely, keeping it in place in the plants and making sure wildlife has enough to survive. Here are 7 tips that might help:

1. Apply a mulch around plants that are most sensitive to water loss – grass clippings are ideal as they are light reflective (though you might well not have many that are usable in a heat wave- see tip 5 below). Straw is another option.

grass_mulching_tomatoes tiny farm blog

Grass mulching tomatoes from  tiny farm blog

2. Water your garden early morning or late evening (ideally from your own saved rainfall or ‘grey water’ forom the house) – morning is best as the plants need most of their water during the day time when they are growing. Leave a bucket or watering can full of water inside the greenhouse to help keep up humidity and so reduce the rate at which plants lose water through transpiration.

3. Get creative about shading your tenderest plants and crops – use shade netting, cloth, or fleece and maybe even think about using picnic awnings, table parasols and even tent poles with bedsheets!

movable awning

Movable awnings can bea useful shade for tender plants

4. If you need to plant out seedlings try to plant them alongside taller neighbours to help provide some protection, or even better hold off transplanting until the weather is more suitable – you can better care for seedlings in a container if you remember to water and shade them (and pot them into bigger pots if need be).

5. If you haven’t already stopped mowing your lawn then do so and leave at least 5 – 8cms of growth to help conserve moisture.

6. Avoid adding fertiliser to your ground as plants don’t need it in the heat as their growth rate slows.

7. Look after the wildlife – top up ponds, bird baths and drinking bowls for hedgehogs etc. and put out some food for these critters too, as it will be harder for them to find natural food like worms which bury themselves deeper into the ground.

Here’s hoping you and your garden survive the heat – how long before we Brits are hankering after a ‘traditonal’ Summer!

Old School Gardener