Is harsh weather sunburning your home-grown fruit and vegetables?

Home-grown tomatoes, capsicum, pumpkins, apples, cucumbers and even pineapples are falling victim to weather conditions.

Hot summer sun is causing lots of backyard gardens to struggle, as fruit and vegetables become damaged by sunburn and sometimes inedible.

Susceptible plants include tomatoes, capsicums, cucumbers, pumpkins, apples and pineapples.

Provided they are well-watered,  sweet corn, silver beet, green beans, zucchini and root vegetables like radish and beetroot are more hardy in the hot summer months.

According to Angie Thomas* Horticulture Consultant to Yates, you can use ‘slip, slop, slap’ to help protect your plants.

Here are some tips to help you protect your vegetable garden:

If you’re concerned about heat stress look for:

  • Small patches of damaged, discoloured, bleached or papery-looking skin appearing on fruits and vegetable.
  • Fruit dropping prematurely.

Prevent sunburn by taking these steps:

  • If you’re growing susceptible plants, such as potted tomatoes or strawberries, in pots, then move the pot to a shaded patio or balcony.
  • Erect a beach umbrella over the most vulnerable plants in your patch.
  • The morning before expected high temperatures, give potted plants and the garden a good deep drink, so that both the upper and lower layers of soil are moist.

Treatment and prevention:

  •  Keep the soil moist by deep watering your potted plants.
  • Apply a drought shield over sensitive foliage to help reduce moisture loss from leaves and reduce the effects of sunburn. Yates Waterwise DroughShield is a liquid delivered from a spray pack.
  • In the lead up to summer, improve the soil with a rich source of organic matter.
  • At the beginning of summer, apply a soil wetting agent. This helps to break down the waxy, water repellent layer that can develop on soil and enable any rainfall or irrigation to more effectively penetrate down into the root zone of plants.
  • When you’re planning your vegetable patch, try to grow susceptible plants on the southern or eastern side of tall, tougher plants.

The key to protection is to check your garden regularly. If the plants are showing signs of wilting and heat stress, then sunburn may not be far away.  That’s the time to act.

Sun burnt fruit and vegetables can be eaten, as long as you get them before they are too damaged. Just cut off the burnt area and the fruit or vegetable should be useable. You can get more detailed product information and view videos on the Yates website.

*Angie Thomas is Horticulture Consultant to Yates, as well as a member of the Horticultural Media Association and sits on the expert technical panel of the Smart Approved Water Mark.