Tips to Grow Food in Hot, Dry or Windy Weather

Regardless of where you live, it’s likely you have some climate challenges to deal with when growing food. Dry hot conditions with no rain make it especially tough. It’s particularly difficult growing food in extreme heat with drought due to low rainfall. El Nino weather patterns and a changing climate are affecting food growers globally. Home gardeners need a plan and strategies to prepare and cope.

Tips to Grow Food in Hot, Dry or Windy Weather | The Micro Gardener

Growing Food in Hot Dry Weather

Here in my subtropical climate in SE Queensland, Australia we experience five seasons of different lengths. Some months are almost perfect food growing conditions and others are extremely challenging.

During our summer months – December through March – it’s typically hot and uncomfortably sticky. We can get sudden storms which often bring torrential rain and even hail, flooding the garden and potentially damaging plants or even destroying them. Hail damaged leaves, fruit and stems are more vulnerable to diseases as the plant tissues are exposed to pathogens.

Baking hot days often results in heat stress and scorching temperatures can cause sunburn. Many plants can suffer dehydration very quickly. Exposure to intense direct sunlight, higher-than-average temperatures and wind, without sufficient soil moisture is a recipe for plant damage and poor yields.

During storm season, strong gusty winds can stress plants, particularly if they are hot and dry. During storms, wild weather can cause stems and branches to easily snap or fruit to drop. Wind also causes fungal spores to spread quickly, worsening diseases like powdery mildew.

Not to mention the pest insects and diseases that thrive in hot, humid and windy conditions! At times it seems like everything is stacked against us as food gardeners.

An El Nino weather pattern can be particularly harsh with drier and hotter conditions than normal. I find the best way to cope is to know what to expect in your climate and be prepared with suitable strategiesOnce you understand your unique microclimates, you can make more informed choices about which plants to locate to suit the conditions.

Likely you have difficult weather at times too. So, what can you do to help protect your precious plants?

3 Ways to Protect your Crops from the Weather

1. Provide Windbreaks

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Summer Heatwaves in My Garden

Weather extremes – hot or cold – make it challenging to grow food. Don’t you agree? Severe conditions with intense heat and long periods of drought are especially tough to deal with.

Summer Heatwaves in My Garden - Growing Food in Hot Dry Conditions

Normally, January and February are our ‘wet’ rainy storm and cyclone season. On average, we’d have received about 360mm (14 in) by now. How much rain have we had here in subtropical SE Queensland, Australia over this time? In my garden, just 55mm (2in) all year!

On top of these unseasonally extreme dry conditions, we’ve had soaring temperatures since December. We’ve experienced the most 30°C+ (86°F) consecutive days for years. Today, it’s 40°C (104°F). Tomorrow, I’m looking forward to a forecast cooler day – just 33°C! Not to mention drying winds. Nice!

So, as a gardener, it’s essential to be flexible and learn to adapt to changing weather conditions. I’m no exception! We have to learn to accept we get too much or not enough sun or rain sometimes, and go with the flow of life. Plants adapt and we can too.

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