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Saving your vegetable patch from the summer sun

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If you've been successful so far this year with growing some vegetables, it can be little disheartening to see them shrivel up as the temperatures rise. Here are some things you can do to help your garden survive the summer heat.

Mulch the garden beds

Mulch is extremely important in protecting young seedlings from the summer sun and absorbing some of the heat from the sun so that the root system does not bake. Mulch also helps retain water, so that water is not immediately evaporated before the plant can absorb it. Organic mulches such as wood chips are best, as the inorganic mulches like plastics can heavily heat the ground under the mulch and create a hot and humid environment between the mulch and soil.

Try putting down your mulch in early spring and late autumn (as mulch is also useful in regulating soil temperatures in the winter). A company like Mossrock Mulch can help you source and apply your mulch.

Water early in the morning or late at night

Do your watering as late as possible if you are hand watering, and if you have reticulation, set if for the middle of the night (3-4am). That gives your plants some cooler weather to absorb the water and you'll get less leaf burn from drops of water on the leaf boiling.

If you have reticulation, check that the heads are still watering in the direction you want after you have laid your mulch -- it is very easy for the sprinkler heads to get knocked or blocked up whilst spreading mulch through the garden beds.

Mobile planter boxes

If you have enough room, mobile planter boxes can be fantastic in allowing the flexibility to plant seedlings in spring and maximise sunlight when cooler. Then as the weather heats up you can move back under shade. You can combine mobile planter boxes with mulching and hand watering for the best results.

Shade cloth

If you have an easily defined area as a vegetable patch, it can be worth self installing some shade cloth over the vegetables for the hottest months of the year. This can be removed and reinstalled the following year, so the cost over time on installing the shade cloth can be very low.

Choose a modified planting schedule for your region

If you live in a particularly hot part of Australia you might find that traditional summer salad vegetables like lettuce and capsicums might be better suited to a late winter planting and mid spring harvesting.