A green space for urban gardeners

Beating the sweltering summer heat in your urban garden

“Hot town, summer in the city.”

Mercifully, after several days of extreme, upper 90s heat, Chicago received relief today.

Not only was it about 10 degrees cooler, but we also were treated to a nice drenching rain. For urban container gardeners who’ve had to be super vigilant about keeping those plants hydrated, it’s good to get a night off.

Yes, I said “night,” because as we’ve covered previously, that’s the absolute best time to water. “…at night it’s a different world.”

Plus, in this case, it saves the dedicated gardener having to labor beneath the day’s ultra-violet rays.

As the heat wave works its way east the mantra to keep in mind, despite how challenging the weather gets is, “keep soil evenly moist.” Containers can dry out fast in extreme heat and missing just one day could be the difference between life and death for your plants.

Oh, and don’t add new plants that haven’t been properly seasoned into your containers when the mercury’s soaring — they can be burned beyond salvage.

Which brings me to my own patch of green… Some of the plants that I ordered online have shriveled up and died. I’m not sure why– they were planted a couple weeks pre-heat and I watered and fed them faithfully (I like to attribute their demise to the X-factor)… So where I expected to eventually see beautiful blue, yellow and lime lisianthus blooms is now just empty spaces.

Yes, my garden is still very much a work in progress.

On the upside, there are flowers popping up on my tomato plants, nasturtiums that I direct-seeded have sprouted, I’ve already plucked basil several times to incorporate into recipe,s and, my edibles planters seem to be doing fairly well — just check out the lovely “French vanilla marigold” at the beginning of this post.

Has the heat (or factors unknown) wiped out anything in your garden? Leave a comment…


  Mary Ryan wrote @

My garden is on a roof top terrace- all containers and I do water daily. My tomatoes have yellow leaves at the bottom and my garden salsa peppers have brown bottoms. We here in Maryland seem to be having the same weather pattern as you in Chicago– a week of very hot and humid but today and yesterday have been beautiful- 80’s and no humidity….I enjoy reading your blog! Thanks!

  AW wrote @

Hi, I’m glad you enjoy reading the blog; I enjoy writing it! Sounds like your garden is full-sun like mine, always more of a challenge when things heat up. They say yellow leaves indicate too much water, so you might try giving them a little less water during your daily sessions. Cheers!

  richard @ funky garden furniture wrote @

Like you, and probably most gardeners, mine is a work in progress. I have the opposite problem living in the UK though in terms of climate and the weather…not enough sun and too much rain but will keep your tips in mind for when our summer begins (or if should I say).

  AW wrote @

But living in the UK, you likely actually fully embrace the concept of “garden,” rather than “yard” like people tend to do stateside! Of course, you’re right, gardens are eternally a work in progress, I suppose. Cheers!

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