Summer heat is here and there is much to be done in our gardens.

Starting in July through at least the beginning of September harvest, you’ll need to water your garden more because summer heat and wind dry up the soil faster. At the same time, the plants will have grown and developed more avid thirsts. You are probably inspecting your garden daily and will likely notice right away if the ground is too dry, as your plants may have begun to wilt.

Some guidelines for watering: Discourage slugs and fungus by watering early in the morning. Water only when the garden needs it — or better yet, you might install a drip or soaker hose system. Watering soil to a depth of 8 inches or so encourages deep roots, which withstand drought and winds.

It’s best to wait until plants have just begun to wilt before you water. Probe the soil between rows to a depth of 6 inches or so. If the soil is dry for the first 2 inches to 4 inches but damp at 4 inches to 6 inches, it means there is still enough moisture in the soil bed for healthy plants to reach and use. Waiting another day to water encourages the plants to dig a little deeper and thus enlarge their feeding area.

When it’s time to water, water thoroughly — a deep watering is one that leaves the soil bed moist to a depth of 8 inches to 1 foot. To accomplish this, you should go through the garden twice with the hose using a gentle water pressure. Watering in two stages in this manner will get the moisture down to the proper depth.

To avoid fungus problems you need to water at soil level — no overhead watering. If you plan to be away once in a while during the growing season, even for a day, it is best to install drip irrigation with in-line emitters and use a timer to be able to water slowly and twice to get that deep watering accomplished.

Keep your container plants watered — you will need to keep a careful watch on them as they dry out more quickly.

They might need watering twice a day depending on how large they are. Remember that July is a hot month and this is a desert. Check on them daily, water and use some mulch on the top of the soil to help hold moisture.

Summer harvests

Now is the time to begin harvesting! Isn’t it great when you can brag that your dinner salad has come from your garden? So many vegetables are ready right now, including peas, lettuce, little onions and beautiful radishes; zucchini and the early tomatoes will be ready soon. As you harvest these things, get something else into the soil. Many veggies do well as a fall harvest, including carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi and radishes. Remember to plant some Asian stir fry ingredients such as bok choy, and it is not too late to sow another crop of green beans. Make better use of your garden space to grow healthy food for your family and begin succession gardening for fall crops now.

You might also want to nip some of those beautiful herbs from your garden and use them in your cooking, or dry for use this winter.

Other things to do

Now is the time to deadhead your flowers: It’s so much fun to just walk around your garden with a cup of coffee in the morning and snip off all the spent blooms. This tells the plant to produce more blooms and keeps color going longer in your beds.

Take a walk through the public gardens, including the Yakima Area Arboretum and the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden at Ahtanum Youth Park. Enjoy the beautiful rose bed at the arboretum and plan some time to view our garden which is a teaching garden showcasing sustainable garden practices such as composting, drip irrigation, use of salvaged and recycled materials in the hardscapes. The garden consists of many different “outdoor rooms,” including a vegetable garden, grasses, gourds, culinary herbs, cottage garden, children’s garden, xeric garden, shade garden, woods walk, a wild bird area and much more.

These are wonderful places to get ideas so take a pad and pencil.

You might take advantage of the opportunity to spend a Sunday at the Yakima Farmers’ Market and enjoy all the beautiful produce, nice selections of plant material, and art for your garden and other wonderful locally made food products. Make it a point to spend some money for the upcoming week’s menu and by doing so you will be supporting our local growers. Also, be sure to stop by the Master Gardener table for answers to your gardening questions.

• The Master Gardener walk-in clinic is open from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 2403 S. 18th St., Union Gap. Questions about gardening, landscaping or this program can be directed to the Master Gardener clinic at 509-574-1604.