Top 5 Easy Ways To Easily Cool Your Smart Vegetable Garden
Several people have recently asked me about the relevance of a veggie patch ‘structure’ like I promote with the Smart Veggie Patch in hot climates. Obviously, there is a point at which your local environmental temperatures are simply too hot to grow produce in. If local gardeners are unable to have an outdoor vegetable garden because of raging summer temps, that might also rule you out of a Smart Veggie Patch.
We are seeing heatwave conditions at the moment in much of Europe, and the same is expected during our Australian summer. Short bursts of above-average heat are more manageable than consistent high averages. I have found that most plants can cope with a few days of excessive heat, but consistent high temps are much more problematic. Many of the following tips on mitigating days of above-average temperatures are only possible because your veggie patch is inside a structure.
Read below to find out more.
Here are 5 reasons why a Smart Veggie Patch Structure can actually increase your chance of veggie patch success in hot climates over an outdoor garden.
1. Ventilation – A Smart Veggie Patch building is a hybrid greenhouse. Our goal with the structure is to create a mini utopia of your normal environmental conditions, not a place separating you from your local conditions. We achieve that by including extensive ventilation abilities within the structure. Your structure must not hold or trap heat in summer. This can be achieved by fitting opening roof panels and wall panels and having removable wall sections. Air must be able to easily flow ‘through’ and ‘out of’ the structure. We leave about 50% of these open all year round and more during summer. Just to reiterate, we are not trying to create a whole new environment within the garden that is separate from your local conditions but a space where your local condition can be ‘optimal’ all year round.
* Not trapping hot air and creating breeze cross flows is critical
2. Solar Powered Exhaust Fans – These can be purchased at most large hardware stores. They mount on the roof of the structure and will draw hot air out of it when the temperature hits about 28 degrees. On days with limited natural air flow or wind, these are great for recycling air through and out of the veggie patch. The exhaust fans we have can recycle all of the air inside our Smart Veggie Patch twice every hour, which significantly impacts internal temperatures.
* Solar powered exhaust fans are a wonder and they work great!
Shade Cloth – The structure allows you to attach shade cloth to the roof of your veggie patch, creating a natural shade canopy. This can be invaluable if you are experiencing prolonged high temps and damaging sun rays. A few weeks of shade cloth during the peak of summer might very well be the difference between being able to have a garden and not for some people. The colour of the shade cloth can impact plant health by removing specific light spectrums. I suggest using white shade cloth, which will still provide a high level of UV protection, but in extreme situations, black shade cloth would be the choice.
* Shade cloth will radically reduce heat and the chances of sun damage to plants
Ceiling Mounted Misting Systems – High temperatures usually mean low humidity, which can damage your plants in the garden. Having an automated misting system means you are not only lowering ambient temps in the Veggie Patch but replacing valuable humidity levels. Most garden irrigation systems also allow a misting system to be temperature activated, but in our case, we set the misting system to come on every hour during the peak heat of the day.
* Automated misting systems are great for when you are at work
Evaporative Cooling – Having an automated irrigation system in your Smart Veggie Patch also means you can increase the watering regime to create an evaporative cooling effect. By keeping plants and soil well watered, any excess water will be evaporated by the heat, which is quite effective in lowering the temperatures inside the structure. You can also use wetted pads and water holding containers with large surface areas to increase the evaporation process.
* Wet plants and soil will create evaporation that cools air temperatures
Many ways you can lower temperatures inside a Smart Veggie Patch are impossible without a structure to attach and add things to. By just using just ventilation, shade cloth and a misting system, you will be able to keep your Smart Veggie Patch a lot more protected from heat and sun than a typical outdoor garden. Hopefully, you have also been harvesting lots of rainwater from the roof of your structure over Winter, so you have plenty of water to use through Summer.
Again, a Smart Veggie Patch is about creating a protected and controlled space for your produce to grow, thrive and flourish. By having more scope and ability to mitigate issues as they present themselves, you can radically increase the reliability of supply and the abundance of produce you can provide yourself and your family.
About The Author
Terry Memory is the author of "The Smart Veggie Patch" which will be available through Pan Macmillan in July 2022. He lives with his wife Gemma, and their six kids live on a forty-acre organic farm in the Huon Valley in southern Tasmania, Australia. Terry and Gemma produce most of their food requirements for their family with a two hundred square meter Protected and Controlled Environment garden that also thermally heats their home. As a successful health food entrepreneur, Terry co-founded the 13 Seeds Hemp Food and Tasmanian Tea Companies on his farm. Terry is a passionate sustainability and self-sufficiency advocate with over twenty years of practical experience.
TAGS: Veggie Patch, Vegetable Garden, Raised Garden Beds, Growing Your Own Food, Self-Sufficiency, Sustainability, Homegrown, Homesteading, Off-Grid, Organic Food, Backyard Garden, Community Garden, Urban Garden