Helpful Advice for Gardening in the Heat

I recently moved to the California Central Valley. And though I’ve only been here for a few weeks, I’ve already learned one thing: it gets hot.

Really hot.

Last month, temperatures regularly exceeded 100˚F. Considering the nutrient solution inside Tower Garden should stay below 85˚F, that intensity of heat can be problematic.

In fact, extremely high temperatures can cause heat stress, which may:

  • Encourage plants to bolt or simply go dormant. In either case, the plants stop growing.
  • Render pollen infertile. That means your tomatoes, zucchini, and other crops may flower, but they won’t be able to produce fruit.

So it’s pretty important to prevent your plants from getting too hot.

This summer, I’ll use the following four techniques to help keep my outdoor Tower Garden cool. As temperatures rise in your area, consider doing the same!

Grow Heat-Tolerant Plants

Some plants take heat better than others. Generally speaking, you’ll want to stick with fruiting crops and woody-stemmed herbs and avoid greens.

These 11 plants are known for their heat-tolerant natures:

This list is a great place to start. But even these plants may drop their flowers or go dormant when temperatures approach 100˚F.

So to give them their best chance, follow the next three steps.

Tower Tip: Tomatoes, peppers, and other fruits absorb lots of water and nutrients. You can reduce stress on your fruiting crops by harvesting frequently.

Keep Your Plants Hydrated

By growing with Tower Garden — which automatically delivers water and nutrients to your plants — you’ve eliminated the tedious task of watering. But it’s still a good idea to check the reservoir twice a week to ensure it’s at least half full.

And when it’s time to refill, remember to add nutrients every other time (or at half-strength). Heat causes the water to evaporate more rapidly, resulting in a more concentrated nutrient solution.

If your plants wilt during the hottest part of the day (usually in the afternoon), try running your pump continuously. By keeping the water moving, you’ll ensure plant roots don’t dry out. You can switch back to 15-minute intervals once temperatures drop.

Cool Down the Nutrient Solution

Another benefit of growing a Tower Garden is that you have greater control over the temperature of the growing medium. There’s not much you can do to reduce soil temperature. But water temperature is a different story.

Keep the internal temperature of your Tower Garden in check with the following techniques:

  • Place your Tower Garden far from stone, brick, and concrete. These materials absorb heat and continue to release it after the sun goes down.
  • Raise your garden up with the Tower Garden Dolly or a similar device. This will help reduce the amount of heat transferred from the ground (which is often hotter than the air).
  • Add a couple of frozen water bottles to the reservoir. When they melt, replace them with a freshly frozen pair. Repeat this cycle as necessary.
  • Purchase reflective insulation from your local hardware store, and wrap it around your Tower Garden reservoir. This trick — which I’ve seen rooftop farms use — will essentially turn your Tower Garden into a giant thermos. In other words, it will keep the contents inside at a consistent temperature while repelling the sun’s hot rays.

Provide a Little Shade

You can protect your plants from midday heat stress by temporarily moving your Tower Garden into the shade. This action alone can lower temperatures by 10˚F.

If you don’t have any shade or can’t move your Tower Garden, consider covering your plants with the UV-resistant Weather Protection Blanket. (In a pinch, even an old sheet will do.) But make sure your plants still get plenty of ventilation. Otherwise, you may make things even hotter.

Over to You…

So there you have it — the four key steps to helping your garden beat the summer heat are:

  • Grow heat-tolerant plants
  • Keep your plants hydrated
  • Cool down the nutrient solution
  • Provide a little shade

In addition to caring for your plants, remember your own well-being when gardening in severe heat. If possible, tend to your Tower Garden in mornings and evenings only. And don’t forget to hydrate!

Have questions I didn’t answer? Leave a comment below, and I’ll be happy to help.

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