In the garden world, we generally break plants into two groupings: cool crops and hot crops. Knowing the difference between the two can revolutionize your gardening game because you’ll be able to predict what each of your plants needs during different times of the year and how to help them thrive! In this article we dive into how to create micro-climates to support hot or cold crops during summer.
Just like people, different plants like different conditions! Some crave the heat while others prefer the cool air.
We all live in different environments that may somewhat limit what we can grow. For instance, if you live in the coastal Pacific Northwest, it can be really difficult to get enough warm days to ripen tomatoes and peppers! But, if you live in the high desert, you will have plenty of heat for those crops! However, in that environment, it will be hard to keep a lot of greens and other cool crops alive during the dry hot summers!
Luckily, we can create microclimates that will help our plants thrive in almost any environment! One of my favorite things about Planted Places is how easy it is to tailor your plant’s environment to the microclimate that they need to flourish! Whether you are growing in pots on a Vertical Gardening structure like the Planted Wall or in container gardens, you can easily move your plants where they will do best! And that is something that you definitely can’t do with in-ground gardens!
Placing fruiting plants (like micro-tomatoes and peppers), leafy greens and herbs in different locations on the Planted Wall can create micro-climates. Leafy Greens can be protected from the heat and sun by placing in the middle of the wall. Herbs and heat-loving fruiting plants can be placed near the top of the wall to maximize the sun.
You can move the Planted Wall around to position it away from the sun on extra hot days or place in a different location to help reflect light and heat on cooler days.
Let’s chat about hot crops and cool crops as well as how to tailor your space to create microclimates so that each type of plant is happy!
Create micro-climates that support these hot crop plants in the heat of the summer.
Hot crops are the ones that flourish in summertime under the heat of the sun! Their ideal temperature is usually between 75-90 degrees. They love heat and long sunny days. However, they may experience slower growth if conditions are cooler or if there isn’t enough sunshine.
Some Hot Crops for your Planted Places Pots and Walls:
- Summer crisphead lettuce (heat tolerant varieties)
- Herbs like oregano, mint, thyme, rosemary
How to maximize your environment for hot crops if you live in a cooler area:
If you live in a cooler region, or if you want to keep your hot crops growing even as the temperatures dip off toward summer’s end, you can create warm microclimates for your plants. Here are some ideas:
- Use a southern or western exposure to maximize the heat and sun
- Place your warm crops near walls and surfaces that will reflect the heat onto them
- Use dark pots if possible to help absorb the heat
- Maintain a regular watering schedule but allow the soil to dry slightly and warm up between waterings
- Place your plants near your dryer vent if possible! This is an easy way to capitalize on warm air that would be wasted otherwise!
Belonging to the mint family with 40+ species, derives its name from the Latin "lavare," meaning "to wash." It has a rich history in medicine, beauty, and cuisine, including its use during the Black Plague and in ancient Egyptian mummification. Edible, it flavors food and drinks, while its fragrance features in perfumes and beauty products. Lavender's versatility extends to insect repellency and potential sleep and anxiety benefits. This hardy plant thrives in various climates and is favored in landscaping for its beauty and scent.
Adriana Butterhead Lettuce
A favored type, boasts tender leaves and a mild taste. It's a hybrid merging butterhead and crisphead traits, offering both softness and crispness. Leaves form compact rosettes with a slightly crinkled appearance. The lettuce features a delicate, slightly sweet flavor, making it ideal for salads with diverse dressings. Its tender texture enhances mouthfeel. This variety can take hot environments and cool climates. It flourishes in well-drained soil with consistent moisture to prevent bitterness and bolting.
Saragossa Crisphead Lettuce
Also called Iceberg lettuce, is renowned for its tightly packed, crisp leaves. It forms a round head with a satisfying crunch and a pale green exterior transitioning to a pale white or yellow core. Its high water content lends a refreshing quality, making it popular for salads, wraps, and sandwiches. Its mildly sweet taste harmonizes well with diverse ingredients and dressings. It offers vitamins A and K, some fiber, and is low in calories, catering to those conscious of their nutritional intake.
Among the earliest herbs used medicinally, boasts a rich history spanning thousands of years. It has been utilized to aid digestion, alleviate headaches, and provide breath freshness. Its healing properties date back to ancient civilizations, such as the Egyptians who employed it for indigestion and the Greeks who used it for dental hygiene and breath improvement.
This herb is one of the easiest herbs to grow. It isn't just versatile and flavorful in dishes, but also offers health benefits and a longstanding role in traditional medicine. Parsley is a hidden nutritional treasure: it's abundant in vitamins and minerals. Just a tablespoon of chopped parsley contains over 100% of your daily vitamin K requirement, crucial for bone health and clotting. Vitamin C for immune support, along with vitamins A, iron, and potassium, are also present.
Beyond nutrition, parsley boasts a centuries-old medicinal legacy. Used to ease digestive woes like bloating and flatulence, it's a natural remedy for bad breath.
Here's how to protect cool crops during the heat of the summer.
Cool crops are plants that thrive in cooler temperatures, generally 80 degrees or below. These are plants that are the stars of the spring and fall garden but they may struggle in the heat of summer. Many of them will bolt in the heat and the longer days. Or, they may grow slower, preserving their energy during the hot months.
Here are examples of cool crops that are ideal for containers and vertical growing because they grow well in small pots:
- Most lettuces
- Mustard greens
- Bok Choy/Chinese cabbage/Pac Choi
- Violas/Johnny Jump-Ups
How to maximize your environment for cool crop plants during the Summer heat:
During the hot summer, it can be helpful to create little microclimates for your cool crops by finding or creating some cooler spaces around your home. Here are some ideas:
- Keep your cool crops in dappled shade or filtered light during the hottest part of the day
- Place your cool crops away from walls or other surfaces that might reflect the sun and heat onto them
- Use light-colored pots if possible to help reflect rather than absorb the heat
- Keep them well watered – the moist soil will help cool them
- If your potted plants are drying out quickly, place a saucer under them to help retain extra moisture
- Give your plants an eastern or northern exposure when possible to maximize cooler temperatures during heatwaves
As always, healthy soil will help your plants thrive even in the most challenging of temperatures. Try some of our soil and soil amendments to start growing regeneratively! You'll be amazed at how much easier it is to grow healthy leafy greens, herbs, and veggies. Everything is easier because your plant health is in tip top shape.