I have been thinking about what I could write about in this month’s article. When I was outside watering last night, I thought everyone else was thinking about the same thing I am doing. How am I going to keep my plants alive during this heat wave? This week looks hot and there is not much rain in the forecast. So what are we to do?

Everyone will be watering, watering and watering some more. But we have to be smart about it. We have to have the right amount of water for a successful garden. The lack of water can have a definite impact on plants, even if it is for just a few days. Plants use the roots to move nutrients through the plant and if there is not sufficient water — no nutrition.

The vegetable garden needs an inch of water every week. Check the soil in the garden by digging down at least two inches to see if there is sufficient moisture. If not, time to water. What is the best time of day to water? Watering in the morning prepares the plant for the day and watering in the evening cools it off. But it does matter the way you water.

Morning watering is best when using a sprinkler or garden hose when you wet the foliage. When done watering, the foliage has time to dry off to help prevent fungal diseases. Watering in the evening is best when you use a drip irrigation system or soaker hoses.

Mulching in the garden or even in your containers helps retain the moisture as well as helping to keep the weeds down. There are many kinds of mulch that you can use in the garden. You can use herbicide free grass clippings, shredded bark mulch and even straw. Shredded newspaper or even cardboard between the rows of your garden. Another reason to keep those weeds out of the garden is that they compete for that moisture, so get them out of there!

Container gardens do tend to dry out fairly quickly in the heat and especially if it is windy. They might need daily attention during this heat. Sometimes they might need watering more than once a day if they are in the hot sun. Avoid letting your containers dry out and stay that way for too long. Plants can become quite stressed and may not recover.

In our zest, to keep things watered keep in mind you can overwater things as well. If you have trays underneath your containers, don’t let water sit in them. You can place a rain gauge in your garden to help measure the water as you water. Remember an inch a week should be sufficient for your vegetable garden.

And we have to remember we live in Minnesota and this heat wave shall pass! Happy watering, everyone!

Lorrie Rugg is master gardener coordinator for Steele and Rice counties.

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