Watering in a Heatwave

Watering Your Garden in a Heatwave

It’s hot and getting hotter.

Most people love this hot weather and revel at the thought of at least another fortnight of the stuff as ice cream sales, BBQ charcoal and Prosecco sales go through the roof. But, for me, the decline in slug activity is the main positive from this heatwave. Yep, always the gardener.

Slugs and Watering:

Slugs prefer a slightly cooler and damper environment. They quickly detect scorchio temperatures and they either stay hidden under their rocks and stones or tunnel further into the soil, away from the buffet of carrot and parsnip roots, to snooze their way through the heatwave.  However, in hot weather plants need water and that = hosepipes = damp conditions = slugs!

What a dilemma. Water and encourage slugs, or don't water and encourage dead plants! It has to be watering then. There are a few guidelines when watering and following them will keep plants hydrated and slugs down to a minimum.

Top Tips for Watering:

Water in the early morning. And I mean early. This allows plants to take up water as the slugs slime their way back to their grubby homes. And all before the strength of the sun intensifies and starts to evaporate off the water. Watering late at night merely encourages and waters the slugs as they go about their destruction. 

Water well. A light sprinkling will do more harm than good. Firstly, the water will evaporate before sinking into the soil and secondly it will encourage roots to stay near the surface of the soil. This results in a greater demand for water. Soak them and soak them deep.

Water the soil and not the leaves. Sounds obvious but plants take up water via their roots. And they are in the soil. Watering over the leaves if you are feeling a tad lazy is no good. Water hits the leaves and generally runs off to areas where the roots aren’t. Bend down, reduce the flow of water and drip that water onto the soil surface. Seep hose pipes are fantastic if you have, for example, a newly planted border or veg patch to irrigate. Connect it up, wind around the base of your plants and switch on. Water seeps from the pipe directly onto the soil surface.

One more thing on leaves and watering - droplets on leaves can magnify the sun’s rays and burn holes. Another one more thing - some plant diseases -such as blight - actually need water on leaves to start the attack. 

Only water what is needed. Established plants usually cope in hot dry weather as their roots are deep and everything is ticking over nicely. Newly planted specimens have just got over the shock of transplanting and need help. Again, deep and thorough watering is essential for success.

Your Lawn:

And finally - your lawn in hot weather. Should you water or not? I say not as grass turns off growth in dry conditions and can switch it back on when the rain starts. So, in a way watering your lawn is wasteful. But saying that, I do like a lush green sward. So, if you are watering do it thoroughly to get water down into the root zone. Don't water too much or you will squeeze air out of the soil and cause compaction.

Gardening is a delicate balance.