by Jorge Cervantes

Outdoors
Each day is shorter than the last. Take solace in this fact, because each day is closer to harvest.
July is often the beginning of truly hot summer weather in cooler climates. Warmer climates have experienced hot weather for more than a month. Water is very, very important now, especially if plants are subjected to drying wind. Water consumption will continue to increase as long as hot weather persists.

The angle of the sun is high overhead, which means it is brighter and hotter, providing even more light and heat than plants need to thrive. Plants may need protection from the sun to grow fast. Note the local nurseries have many of their plants, especially fast-growing annuals, under shade cloth now. Stop in the nursery and ask the grower why the shade cloth is so important and what differences it makes. You will find that plants under it use less water and grow faster in the cooler temperatures, even though they receive less sunlight.

Protect pots from the blazing sun. If you have ever sat in the sun in 60°F temperatures, you were probably comfortable and felt it was much warmer than 60°. Plant pots react the same way. Imagine sitting in the sun when the temperature is 80°-90°. The temperature climbs to more than 120° and cooks tender feeder roots, which slows growth to a crawl.

Seeds and clones should be well established now. If you must plant now, make sure plants receive plenty of water and receive filtered light during midday sun. Plants that parch now will produce much less later. Remove all but the top few 2-3 sets of leaves, and plant seedlings and clones deeply in the ground. Roots will soon form on the buried stem.

Continue to mulch heavily around plants. A thick layer of mulch keeps surface feeder roots cool and retards moisture loss. Use dried grass, straw, plastic or paper as mulch. Make sure the color of the mulch does not attract attention.

Insects and pests including mollusks are epidemic now. Protect with snail/slug bait, check plants regularly for damage and spot-spray problem areas. Cover snail/slug bait to exclude munching birds, warm-blooded animals and rain. Brush mulch a few inches back away from stems to discourage mice from "girdling" (chewing around) stems.

Browsing deer avoid larger plants, but small ones still need the protection afforded by a chicken-wire fence.

Cover your tracks to the garden. Always take a different trail to the patch. Be careful to disturb natural foliage as little as possible.

Indoors

The Fourth of July falls on a Thursday this year and most people will have a four-day weekend. If you go out of town, make sure to prepare your garden. Plants need a lot more water when the weather is hot. Fill the reservoir just before leaving on a short vacation.

Plants use more water and proportionately less nutrients in hot weather. Make sure to "top off" reservoir once or twice daily to compensate for escalated water usage. Clean and replace nutrient solution at least once a week.

Some growers install a larger reservoir or add another one during the summer. If the reservoir runs out of water/nutrient solution and leaves the pump dry, it could easily burn out. Always keep the reservoir covered, to avoid extra evaporation and water loss.

Set the reservoir on a cool concrete floor and in the coolest part of the growroom. Warm nutrient solution harbors less oxygen and promotes slower growth. Warmer temperatures also foster waterborne diseases faster. If reservoir temperatures climb to 70° or above, consider a reservoir cooler. If a cooler is too expensive, increase the size of the reservoir. A larger volume of water takes longer to warm.

Keep humidity between 30% and 60% day and night to avert pest and disease problems. Keep temperatures below 85°, day and night.

Examine all plants for disease and pest injuries, especially leaf undersides. Pests and diseases are often worst in hot weather. Isolate sick plants from the rest of the garden. If possible, move them outdoors to a shady locale where problems are easier to correct.

Keep the smell abatement in force. High temperatures increase odors from blooming buds.

Leach soil/soilless mix every 2-4 weeks. Flush pots with 3 gallons of mild nutrient solution for every gallon of medium.

Make clones 2-3 weeks before harvesting crop so they have time to develop strong healthy roots.

Harvest buds when ripe.

Scrub out the nutrient tank and keep the entire growroom spotless!