New Orleans summers can be very intense for people and plants.
Here are some tips to help you beat the heat this year:
1) Water early in the day- water will evaporate quickly as the day heats up and the sun comes out. You might want to water a little more than the rest of the year, but not significantly. Make sure that the soil isn’t constantly damp, or else your plant may develop root rot. Add an olla, soaker hose, or other features to your garden to help maintain moisture.
2) Plant heat-tolerant plants and varieties (examples: peppers, zucchini, summer squash, mirlitons, okra, peas ) in your yard, as they are more likely to survive the New Orleans summer. Start herbs and more delicate plants inside in a window sill, then harden them over two weeks to acclimatize them to the heat.
3) Remulch around the base of plants to deter weeds and retain moisture.
4) Add bird feeders (seed, suet) and bird houses to help control pests in your yard. Birds are natural pest control, eating caterpillars and other bugs that prey on gardens. Plant flowers to encourage pollinators, who will improve the productivity of your garden.
5) Add a 1 part Neem oil to 4 parts water mixture to leaves affected by insects. This will deter them from returning to the plant.
6) Hydrate yourself regularly to reduce heat exhaustion or dehydration. Wear sunscreen, a hat, and long sleeves to prevent sunburns. Take regular breaks from physical labor outside- direct sunlight adds 15 degrees to the heat index.
Garden effectively to keep you and your plants safe this summer!