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Home Grown Tomatoes

What's Hot in the Garden
By Kenn Alan

What’s hot in everybody’s gardens? Everything!
This time of year begins the typical hottest time of the season. Rain showers become scarce, water supplies do as well. Dragging garden hoses becomes a great cardio exercise, and fertilizing your annuals and herbaceous perennials becomes a tedious operation.
Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind.
First of all, remember to stay hydrated. Drink water. There are no set rules on how much water you should consume on any given day, so it’s a good idea to make drinking water a mindful habit. Keep a lidded cupful of water close by at all times while you are outdoors gardening. Take frequent sips of water even if you aren’t thirsty because heat exhaustion can sneak up on you. Also, take frequent breaks in the shade in order to give your body time to naturally cool off.
Next, protect your skin and eyes. Remember to wear your shades with protective lenses to save your eyes from the UV rays. Studies show that eye exposure to the sun’s UV rays can cause cataract growth, as well as other eye-damaging ailments including macular degeneration.
Cover your skin with lightweight, light-colored clothing. Long sleeves in 100-degree weather? You bet! Clothing manufacturers are getting smarter with textiles with built-in UV protection. Look on the garment’s product description tag for specifics such as SPF rating. Wearing light, loose-fitting shirts allows the body to naturally cool through perspiration evaporation. There is also the bonus of a gentle breeze blowing by to occasionally accelerate this process.
Wear a hat. Some hats have a built-in SPF. If you don’t have one of those, no matter. Always wear a hat. Straw, cloth, floppy, baseball cap, cover your head with one of these. It’ll protect your scalp, nose, neck and face from those cancer-causing UV rays.
Wear your gardening gloves. They will protect your hands from both calluses and the sun’s rays.
Remember to also wear sunscreen or sunblock.
Next, watering your plants can be a chore for some people. If you have an automated watering system, be sure it is properly calibrated for maximum efficiency and with minimal use of water. The best systems come equipped with a rain indicator so they don’t operate during rain showers. For those systems, it is best to operate them in the early morning hours around daybreak. Watering during daylight hours is inefficient. Much of the water is wasted through evaporation. Avoid watering in the evening or at night. The lack of air movement and evaporation can cause foliar fungi or disease.
Watering by hand and hose should be done in the early morning. But if your plants need a drink at 3:30 in the afternoon, by all means, water them! Water plants at the base and be sure to water them thoroughly. Soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems work well if used correctly.
Fertilizing your plants is also important for keeping them healthy and showy, and producing flowers and fruits.
When you first place your plants in the garden, I recommend you side-dress them with a time-release fertilizer. This will help the plants stay healthy between liquid fertilizer applications. Liquid fertilizer works well to supplement the time-release type. Some nurseries add time-release fertilizers to their soil mix and liquid feed the plants daily with a weak solution.
When applying fertilizers, be sure the plants are well-hydrated and not droopy. Fertilizing wilty plants can burn them. Liquid fertilizers can be applied to the plant leaves for foliar absorption. Always use fertilizers according to the manufacturer’s labeled instructions.
Some suggestions for what to plant in August are: flowers, including marigolds, zinnias, calendula, sunflowers and coleus; vegetables and herbs, including beets, onions, basil, arugula, tarragon (plants), thyme (plants), rosemary (plants), lettuces, salad greens, turnip greens, collards, broccoli, kohlrabi and late tomato plants of the determinate varieties.
Closing statement: after spending 5.5 years recuperating, resting and researching, it is a pleasure to be back here writing for you. I hope we can pick up where we left off and I can give you the most accurate gardening information available, product and book reviews, and suggestions on how you can make your lawn and garden a truly magnificent and productive showplace.
Meanwhile, stay hydrated while gardening and enjoying your outdoor living spaces. Plan your garden and garden your plan.
If I had a tomato I’d have some tomato with basil, if I had some basil (insert laugh track).
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