23 Jan 2018

Plants that like it hot with Xanthe White

From Nine To Noon, 11:24 am on 23 January 2018

Getting out the garden sprinkler in hot weather might seem logical but landscape designer Xanthe White says pouring on the water isn't the best way to help your plants endure the heat.

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Photo: Pexels

"Not overloading with water and watering less in times of heat is really important," she says.

Pumping a lot of water on gardens in the heat results in a flush of growth, and after a few hot days the new growth wilts.

To help plants become resilient, water less at the beginning of the hot season to encourage plant roots to go deeper into the soil in search of moisture.

"They will harden off a bit ... but that's not a bad thing."

"The amount of growth and how resilient a garden can be with absolutely no watering is quite remarkable."

But the garden will need some water, and White says handwatering rather than using a sprinkler is best.

Plants in shade need less than those on open ground "so if you're handwatering you can make those decisions".

Covering soil with mulch helps conserve water in the heat. Pea straw, comfrey leaves and banana leaves all make good mulch, as does using the "chop and drop" method of leaving cut-up pieces of healthy plants on the soil.

In the post-holiday tidy up of the garden make sure you leave some plants to go to seed, such as parsley, which you know pop up again, says White.

"If you have three or four parsley plants you only need to leave one in to guarantee that it'll be coming back all over your garden."

It's also time to collect seeds from vegetables that had "amazing flavour and did well."

"This is the time when we select the best crops for our garden."

To save tomato seeds, squeeze one out on to a paper towel and leave on the windowsill to dry, while for beans, allow some of the pods to get plump and leathery on the plant before pick and storing them somewhere dark and dry.

"We all know that sun and water is what gets them growing again in the next season, so dark and dry is the trick for when you're storing."