Phew, what weather we've been having this past week! Saturday was soooo hot - particularly if you happen to be climbing Mt Snowdon like we were. And that's "climbing", not "getting the train up, having an ice cream and then getting the train back down". There are 7 walking routes to choose from when it comes to getting up that big Welsh mountain and we decided to challenge ourselves by doing one of the toughest - The Watkin Path - 3.5 hours up and then 3 hours down again. Gradient aside, the sun for the first 2 hours made for a very hot and exhausting walk. However, armed with factor 50 sunblock, a cotton neckerchief to keep the worst of the sun off my neck and a plentiful supply of water for along the way, I got to thinking about sun and heat protection for the suburban veg plot.
One of the best investments I've made for the veg plot thus far is an automatic greenhouse vent opener. It's basically a hinged arm hydraulically controlled in response to rising temperatures. As the internal temperature in the greenhouse rises, the arm starts to push the window open. Gardening magic at its best and perhaps the best £25 I've spent.
Last year I also bought some water-retaining products to use in hanging baskets and pots. Both the granules, which you mix with compost when potting up containers and the mats, which I've found most useful for hanging baskets have proved their worth. It's so nice not needing to water them numerous times every hot day and the various fruit and veg growing in them still seem happy enough to start flowering.
And finally, if I get chance this weekend, I'll be applying a coat of Coolglass on one end of the greenhouse. This white pigment (titanium dioxide) is mixed with water and painted onto the glass panes and acts to reflect the sun's rays thus keeping the temperatures down and preventing plants from drying out too quickly.
Hopefully those measures will go some way to maintaining my veg growth if the sun stays with us this summer!