With record hot temperatures again this summer, it’s important to stay cool. If you have seen me after a day in the garden, you know I am NOT talking about making a fashion statement!
One of my favorite ways to deal with Missouri’s summer heat and humidity is to use muslin kitchen towels, available in the kitchen section of most big box stores; 6-8 for about $5. I will go through the bundles and find the ones with the most kitchen towels since I use them for so many purposes outside of the kitchen.
For gardening purposes, the muslin kitchen towels make excellent head bands and neck scarves to catch sweat and be easily accessible to wipe off perspiration. I tend to leave my headbands with a fabric flap to cover the back of my head and protect my hair, then add a straw hat.
You can also easily tie the headband at the top and leave it there, gives an oddly royal headband look, don’t you think?
Also tie the muslin kitchen towel loosely around your neck to catch perspiration and have it handy to wipe off your hands. I tuck the ends under a t-shirt to catch perspiration at my neck.
Other Ways to Stay Cool
Keep a glass of water handy and drink before you go outside and when you come back in.
Take frequent breaks, no more than half an hour outside at a time.
Break from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m, the peak of the hot conditions.
Apply sunscreen. I notice mine almost immediately runs off so I keep it handy to reapply.
Wear light, loose cotton clothing. Change frequently if you get wet or you may develop a rash.
Work in shade if at all possible. I have a number of blue benches around my garden in shady areas so I can also sit down and enjoy the view.
Working With Plants
Note if a plant needs to be moved but don’t move it, it’s too hot for the roots to survive a move unless you are placing it in shade. Then water the soil first, wait a few minutes; move the plant and water again. You will need to water daily at least a couple of times until the plant re-establishes itself.
Hanging and deck plants will also need daily watering, possibly 2-3 times a day if they are in sun.
Open a deck umbrella to give deck plants a break from the hot sun. Move potted fruit plants such as lemons, limes and oranges into shade. Monitor other plants for sunburn on leaves. Plants can be conditioned to tolerate hotter temperatures but it has to happen gradually. Potted plants have less protection than those in the ground so check them frequently for signs of stress.
If it rains, capture the rain in buckets and water plants the day after, they will respond better to rain water.
Other Options to Stay Cool
A gardening friend and I were comparing notes about the hot weather. He said he sometimes imagines his garden in winter, covered in snow and that helps keep him cool. There is something to be said about mind over not caring about the heat, I will have to try that.
Another friend was listening to the conversation and gave us another option - “stay inside,”, he said.
What an idea.