Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hot soil needs to be shaded

At 5 this evening I used a digital thermometer to determine the soil temperature 1 ½ inches below the soil surface in three different spots at the ‘Grand Junction Community Garden at the Library’. The results were as follows:

Soil shaded with CSFS shades – 83.3 o F.

Soil in a walk way covered by bark mulch - 84.2 o F.

Bare soil neither shaded nor covered with mulch – 104.6 o F.

Most roots shut down when soil temperatures approach 90 o F. Roots will not take up water or nutrients at high temperatures.

The morale of the story is to shade the soil to keep your plants' roots happy. The use of insect barrier (spun-bonded polyester available from some local nurseries) and the CSFS (970 248-7325) shades help keep the soil cool. Homemade shades and even window shades can be used to shade plants and soil. The use of a bark mulch, shredded bark or wood chips can be used to protect the soil from the heat of the sun.

Avoid hay or straw as these often have seeds increasing weed problems.

With small plants a fine layer of mulch will need to be added to as the season progresses and the plants develop. Don't suffocate the new plants with too much mulch. More mulch will need to be added as the months go by. The mulch can be tilled in at the end of the growing season.

When you apply mulch keep it an inch or two away from the base of the plant. This will help avoid stem rot. Apply the mulch when the soil is cool not in the heat of the day.

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