Good golly, Miss Molly — it's hot outside! And humid too. By 9 a.m. I'm done working in the yard. Work may still remain, but my internal clock and the sweat of my brow (and everywhere else) tell me I'm finished. If I push it too far "done" changes rapidly to "done in". Having experienced heat exhaustion a few years ago, I've learned that what I was told then is true — the body cannot tolerate heat the way it did before the episode. Thus, I've been careful to take frequent breaks, drink extra water and eat small energy snacks while working outside for prolonged periods. 

Just like we do at this time of year, our gardens suffer from heat as well. And, just like our bodies, their root systems crave extra water. A single deep soaking weekly encourages them to reach deeper down in the soil to tap moisture stored there. It is those deep roots that allow the plant, tree or shrub to survive August's higher temperatures. Container plantings, however, can only set roots to the depth of their containers. Thus, larger containers can hold moisture longer than smaller ones. Packing plants in tightly helps provide shade to the soil surface and lower temps while conserving daily waterings as well. 

This time of year garden centers offer severe mark-downs on end of season remaining plants. Some are pretty ragged looking, but I have purchased some over the years that "grow-on" to become healthy, happy additions to my gardens. Just be aware that you are taking a chance that the combination of a stressed plant in this heat may not survive. We gardeners have to be "tough old birds" and expect some losses from time to time. You may want to keep the plant in a nursery area (a shaded porch receiving bright light but no direct sun works well). If the plant is a perennial, that provides it a chance to re-establish it's growth and be ready for planting in September when temps are cooler. 

It is a good idea to suspend fertilization during this time of year also. Fertilizing now stimulates the plant to set on new blooms or leaf growth at a time when it's energy needs to be directed at sustaining current growth. 

If you've planted annuals to supplement your perennial garden, they should continue blooming with plenty of water. Otherwise, do as I do and let the garden take a much-deserved rest while you do the same. Fall color will be here soon — ahhh. 

HAPPY GARDENING

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