Ann Wright: Sizzling August in the garden |

Ann Wright: Sizzling August in the garden

Even fruit can get sunburned. Its important to shade your plants to prevent this from happeneing.
Courtesy of UC Davis/ANR Repository |

It’s August, and it’s hot.

The recent unrelenting heat of summer adds another dimension to gardening. Tending the garden in the hot weather warrants some precautions, and working in the garden or yard in the cooler hours is a good choice.

Wear a hat, and drink plenty of water before, during and after working outside. Drinking smaller amounts (6 to 8 ounces) of water every 15 minutes is more effective than consuming larger amounts less often. Consider nighttime gardening — many creatures may be more obvious at night with a flashlight.

Hold off adding new plants to the garden or landscape until fall — now is the time to nurture existing plants, and check plants for heat stress. Some signs of heat stress in plants include wilting, dead or dying foliage and brown leaves.

Wilting is also a normal plant response to heat extremes and is one way the plant minimizes water loss. Wait until evening when temperatures cool to see if the plant recovers before adding extra water.

Plants may also suffer sunburn, recognized by leaf discoloration or dark browning. Branches of trees may darken, crack or split with twigs dying back. (Damage from wood boring insects may be evident on injured bark.) Fruit may show whitening or a water-soaked look on exposed surfaces. Misshapen fruit may also occur with high temperatures, as well as blossom drop.

To help nurture and protect our plants during this heat wave, when possible reduce the temperatures in the garden — add shade by shade cloth or other temporary shade structure.

Check soil water moisture by using a soil water meter, or by the “screwdriver/rebar” test (insert a long screw driver or piece of rebar down into the soil about 12-18 inches and see if moist soil attaches to the implement.)

Water deeply and regularly in the morning or at night. Drips systems may help deliver water specifically to the root zones of the plants. And, mulch, mulch, mulch!

Master Gardeners will be available next week at the fair.

Join us in the Ag-Sperience area for one of our workshops, or just stop by to say hello or ask a home gardening question. Once again this year we will have a straw-bale compost pile — compost happens!

Observe how the browns, greens and summer temperatures really heat up the pile. Master Gardeners will also have special children’s activities each day of the fair — come and check out the “Little Sprouts” and see creativity in motion.

For a complete schedule of workshops, check the fair website ( or go to the Master Gardener’s website at .

Other “hot-August” Master Gardener workshops include, “Compost: A Gardener’s Best Friend” to be presented on Aug. 19, and “How to Grow Cool Season Vegetables” on Aug. 26. Both workshops are from 10 a.m. to noon at the Demonstration Garden on the NID business grounds, 1036 W. Main St. in Grass Valley.

Workshops are free of charge.

Also, save the dates — put Sept. 9 and 23 on the calendar. Our popular tomato tasting event will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sept. 9, and the fall plant sale is scheduled for Sept. 23 from 9 a.m. to noon. Both events will be at the demonstration garden. For more information, check our website, or call the hotline at 530-273-0919.

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