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How to Keep Soil Moist in Warm Weather
Summertime is a beautiful time for going to the beach and enjoying the sun rays, but for the garden, it can be challenging to keep crops happy, as days get longer and hotter. The past several summers, we have seen record temperatures, and for those of us growing a garden, these scorching days can be devastating. Here you will learn how to keep soil moist during hot weather to ensure your plants thrive.
How to Keep Soil Moist by Adding Compost
Compost can hold several times more moisture than dry soil particles. Adding compost to your soil allows the soil to hold onto more moisture, keeps precious microbiology alive (which helps plants thrive), and feeds your plant low amounts of plant food.
How to Keep Soil Moist by Mulching Heavily
Mulch is an essential amendment we use on the farm. We’ve added several hundred cubic yards of mulch over the years to keep moisture in our soil, combat weeds, and create a protective layer for our soil—preventing soil erosion from wind and rain. When we mulch in our garden, we add 4-8″ of mulch around plants, in walkways, and just about every other space where we are not growing a plant. Since moving to our farm and mulching heavily, we have reduced watering costs by 25%
How to Keep Soil Moist by Watering Correctly
Learning how to water is the most important skill you can have as a grower. Plants enjoy watering that is less frequent. Less frequent watering encourages plants to send their roots deeper into the earth as they search for water. We recommend that you use drip irrigation which allows you to water right at the base of the plant, slowly and deeply. With drip irrigation, you will see a reduction in the amount of water you use because you are watering precisely at the place the plant needs it!
Water Before Your Plants Wilt!
Consistent watering will help your plants thrive. Meaning, water your plants before they wilt! The wilting process is damaging to your plants and will reduce the production of fruits or flowers. If you are running irrigation, make sure you monitor your plants to see if you need to increase your watering frequency. If your plants are looking dry and wilted in-between watering, then you will want to increase the number of times you water per week
Good watering habits to retain moisture in your soil are:
1.) Do not water during the hottest part of the day
2.) Water at the base of the plant
3.) Water deeply (water that is held deep in the soil takes longer to dry out)
4.) Water consistently on a regular schedule (use drip irrigation when possible)
How to Keep Soil Moist Using Shade Cloth
Many plants, including peppers and other fruiting crops, can suffer from sunburn caused by hot sun rays. Sweet bell peppers, in particular, are susceptible to sunburn during the hot summer months. Using shade cloth protects crops from sunscald and helps keep moisture in your soil by reducing evaporation. Shade cloth for vegetables should be no more than 50% blockage of the UV rays. In other words, your shade cloth should block out no more than 50% of the UV light. Any higher amount of blockage will stunt the growth of your vegetables. Some tropical and ornamental plants that thrive under the canopy of other plants enjoy stronger shade cloth UV blockage and can benefit from shade cloth of up to 80% UV blockage.
Shade cloth does several things for your crops and plants. It reduces the harshness of the UV light hitting your plants and reduces sunscald. It reduces the surface temperature around your plants. And it reduces evaporation from the soil and trans evaporation from the plant itself. These are critical during the hot, dry summer and fall seasons we experience here in Southern California.