Hot, hot temps well into September aren’t the norm.
In a more “normal” year, we would have told you 3 weeks ago that it was time to turn down watering times on the sprinkler system. Not so this year. We’ve had record highs and night-time lows are still in the 60s.
Since this fall’s season opener is a heat wave, here are some things you need to know.
Monitor moisture levels and water as needed. In a week or so when the heat wave breaks and we have lower night-time temps, be ready to reduce watering times. Cooler nights and shorter days mean the grass needs less water.
While our early spring rains were more than welcome, they also promoted a lot of leaf growth in many trees. With the extended hot days of summer, these trees may not have received the moisture they needed to sustain this growth. As a result, we are seeing trees with yellowing leaves and dropping leaves. Don’t mistake this as a sign of an early fall; it’s probably drought stress.
Keep trees adequately watered going into the fall and winter.
If you have trees planted in turf areas where the turf looks healthy, then the trees are probably healthy. Each time the lawn was watered, they got water too.
Some annual weeds like crabgrass and spurge thrive in the heat and have already seeded. As a result, plan ahead and be ready to deal with a bumper crop of these weeds next summer.
What about the veggie garden?
Some plants are ahead of schedule in terms of ripening. Winter squash, in particular, are ripening early, so it’s important to check them to see if they are ready to pick.
For squash – and also melons – look at the “ground spot.” That’s the small area underneath where the fruit touches the soil. When it turns from white to a creamy or yellow/gold color, the fruit is ready to pick. Keeping squash in a cool, dry place will keep them fresh for weeks.
Tomatoes. Hot weather always seems to be what tomatoes need – but it’s getting late in the growing season. Since we never know exactly when it’s going to frost, encourage the most viable tomatoes on the vine to mature. Prune away the smallest tomatoes so that the medium-sized ones will continue to develop and keep watering, as needed.
Herbs are on the decline
Annual herbs, like basil, are heading into the downside of the season. Now is a good time to pick these herbs and store them for the winter by drying or freezing.
Keep perennial herbs, such as oregano and chives, well watered going into fall and even during the winter, if it is dry. As with trees and other plants, off-season care helps herbs come back as healthier plants next spring.