Wednesday, August 3, 2022

My Vegetables Are Too Hot! by Nancy Shepard

Shade screen over vegie garden. Photo by Nancy Shepard

With recent hot weather hitting 96 degrees before 10 am, I knew my vegetable garden would struggle. I remembered a presentation on growing vegetables in Colorado by Darrin Parmenter with CSU Extension in La Plata County several years ago. I was surprised to learn that tomato plants fail to produce if daytime temperatures get above 90 degrees by 10 am. He said the blossoms would abort their attempt to produce fruit. He also said that peppers were similar to tomatoes with mild peppers' optimal temperatures between 65-90 degrees and hot peppers' optimal temperatures between 75-90 degrees. And even my heat-tolerant lettuces will start to bolt and become bitter when temperatures are above 80 degrees.

So how could I give my vegetables some heat relief without blocking too much sun? I wanted to put up a shade screen over my vegies but all the screen material in the store would block sun between 70-80 percent. I finally found a shade screen made just for covering garden plants to decrease the temperature but allow enough sunlight to grow: 30%. We put together some frames we attached to our raised bed and stapled the material to the frames. So far some of the wild wind storms haven’t taken them down and I’m also hoping it will help reduce water evaporation in the garden. We used a brand from Cooleroo from Lowes Hardware, although I found there are others online. It's supposed to also protect plants from hail.

Shade screen close-up. Photo by Nancy Shepard
The only downside of our setup is that the afternoon sun from the west still bakes the vegies so I think we'll be adding some more shade cloth to the front of the frames.

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