Eke Out The Water – Embrace The Shade

leafy green shade houseLizards, chilli peppers and tomatoes are heat lovers. They adore the sun beating down on them. The rest of us, not so! In the baking heat we sweat, plants transpire = energy and water loss. Though we don’t visibly wilt as does a plant, we can relate to those flaccid leaves!  Shade mitigates both losses, making it a helpful tool in the vegie patch.

Humus rich soil + mulch + thoughtful watering are top of the list for making water go the distance, but there are times when extra protection is needed. A bit of shade makes an enormous difference to plant health and water conservation.

A daytime wilt/ night time recover is a clever water conservation mechanism, not necessarily indicating dry soil. The pores on the leaves (stomata) responsible for water out/ CO2 in shut down when water out is faster than water in.  Though it doesn’t harm the plant it’s not great when fruits are developing. Instead of steady growth, we get stop- grow-stop-grow. When what we want is grow-grow-grow!

pumpkin shadehouseThe newly transplanted, leafy greens and those with plate sized leaves like pumpkins, zucchini and cucumber do well with a bit of shade in the middle of the day. Either use existing canopy from trees or taller plants or put up a simple shade cloth roof. Leave the sides open for airflow and morning/ evening sun. The cooler air beneath the shadecloth slows the driving force for transpiration, making the water you put in your soil go that bit further. Also preventing daytime wilts and god forbid – inferior crops.