Rooftop gardening is a fun and fulfilling hobby. The feeling of fulfillment grows exponentially when your garden is giving you delicious and healthy vegetables during summer.
However, vegetable gardening on your rooftop during the summer is not that easy. You have to deal with a lot of hardships and struggles before your garden can bear any fruit (or vegetables, in this case).
To help you manage your rooftop vegetable garden this summer, here are a few tips.
1. Select Heat-Tolerant Varieties
One of the most critical factors for successful rooftop vegetable gardening during the summer is choosing heat-tolerant plant varieties. Not all vegetables are equally suited to thrive in the intense heat. Hence, you must select the right ones.
Opt for heat-resistant cultivars of your favorite vegetables. For instance, as reported by the University of Florida, Calabaza squash, Seminole pumpkin, and chayote are known for their ability to withstand high temperatures. These vegetables are more likely to produce a good harvest and not wither in the summer sun.
Besides, heat-tolerant variants often require less water. This can be a valuable advantage when water is limited.
2 . Use Shade Cloth or Netting
The scorching summer sun can be quite harsh on your rooftop garden. This can often lead to sunburned leaves, wilting, and reduced crop yields.
To protect your plants from excessive sunlight, the Great Aussie Patios recommend using shade cloth or netting. These materials can be strategically placed over your garden to provide relief from intense sun exposure without blocking too much sunlight.
Shade cloth or netting can be suspended on a frame or trellis above your plants. They come in various shading percentages. Thus, you can choose the right level of protection for your specific location and plant needs. These coverings are a cost-effective solution to keep your plants healthy and productive during the hot summer months.
3 . Get Rid of Weeds
During the summer, your rooftop plants will already have to struggle with retaining water and nutrients from the soil. The last thing you’d want here is for weeds to obstruct this process.
Weeds can take up all the nutrients and water content from the soil, so you must get rid of them. You can simply use your hands or a small gardening spade to remove them.
Another option is to use a chemical weed killer. However, as evident from the Roundup lawsuit, weed killers might not be the best solution. That’s because they might harm both you and your plants.
According to TorHoerman Law, many people who’ve used the Roundup weed killer ended up developing serious health problems including cancer. The Roundup cancer lawsuits were filed to help the affected individuals seek justice and compensation for their losses.
This incident also suggests that if Roundup exposure can cause such harm, other weed killers might affect you too. Therefore, it’s a good idea to avoid chemical weed killers entirely. If it’s not possible, ensure that the weed killer you use is safe and free from chemicals that might harm you and your plants.
4. Invest in Self-Watering Containers
Water scarcity is often a concern when rooftop gardening, especially during the summer when evaporation rates are high. To maintain a consistent water supply for your vegetables, consider using self-watering containers. These containers have a built-in reservoir that holds water, allowing plants to draw moisture as needed through capillary action.
Self-watering containers are a game-changer for rooftop gardeners. They help conserve water and ensure your plants receive a steady supply, even if you’re away for a few days. This innovative solution can significantly reduce the time and effort required for manual watering while keeping your garden lush and thriving.
You can find self-watering planters and containers on Amazon for $17 to $50. The ones available on the market, however, are usually small in size. The larger ones are rarely found in the market. If you want large-size self-watering containers, it’s best to build them yourself.
5. Mulch for Moisture Retention
Mulching is a tried-and-true gardening technique that can benefit your rooftop vegetable garden in several ways. During the summer, mulch plays a crucial role in moisture retention.
Mulch also helps control soil temperature, suppress weeds, and improve soil health by gradually adding organic matter as it breaks down. By mulching your rooftop garden, you’ll create a more stable environment for your plants and promote their overall well-being.
6. Time Your Watering Wisely
Watering is a delicate balance during the summer. Overwatering can cause root rot and moisture-related problems. On the other hand, underwatering can cause plants to wilt and wither. To maximize the efficiency of your rooftop garden’s watering schedule, it’s important to time your watering wisely.
The best time to water your rooftop garden during the summer is early in the morning or late in the evening. These times are cooler and the water has a chance to be absorbed by the roots before the heat of the day sets in.
Try watering the soil directly around the base of the plants and avoiding wetting the foliage. Otherwise, the wet leaves can lead to sunburn and fungal diseases.
7. Implement Companion Planting
Companion planting is an age-old gardening strategy that involves planting compatible crops together to improve the health and yield of your vegetables. During the summer, this technique can be especially useful in a rooftop garden. Some plants benefit from the shade or pest-repelling properties of their neighbors.
For instance, planting tall and heat-tolerant sunflowers next to your more delicate vegetables can provide natural shade and protect them from the sun. Herbs like basil and marigolds can also be beneficial companions, as they deter pests that are common in the summer.
As you can tell from our discussion, managing a rooftop veggie garden during the summer can be exhausting. However, if you do it right, you’ll end up with healthy and mouth-watering vegetables for you to enjoy. Therefore, keep these tips in mind as you work on your rooftop vegetable garden this summer.