Ask a Question forum→Gardening through the New Orleans summer

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New Orleans
Apr 2, 2018 6:54 PM CST
Hello! I've recently moved to New Orleans from Pennsylvania and have started my own vegetable garden. Someone recently mentioned that they struggle to actually make shade for their garden once the summer hits because it gets so hot and the sun is so strong. I haven't found any advice online about this though. Should I be trying to create shade for my garden for the summer? Does it make sense to plant a row of corn and okra along the west side of the garden to make some shade for the rest of the plot through June, July, and August? I'm mostly planting sun-loving plants -- tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers -- but I'm wondering if plants that usually need full sun could use a little protection here in the south where it is so hot.

Thanks so much!
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
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Apr 2, 2018 7:07 PM CST
Planting your tall things to make a little afternoon shade makes a lot of sense to me, Rosie. I'm in Florida so similar conditions to New Orleans in summer. But with corn, you also need to make sure there are at least two rows so that they will get pollinated. Also you don't want to block the breezes getting to your other plants. Air flow is critical to disease prevention in high humidity.

Tomatoes here generally struggle and a lot don't make it through summer. Most tomatoes won't set fruit when the night temperatures are above about 70deg. so we grow tomatoes here from plantings in September or February (maybe a bit later for you). I am still harvesting every day from my fall-planted tomatoes but will probably be pulling them out around the beginning of June. There are a lot of fungi and blights that are rampant in the hot months, with the heavy humidity down here, too. I'm trying one this year called Everglades tomato which is a wild cultivar that was found bearing tiny fruits in (guess where!) the Everglades. Try any hybrids that say they are "heat tolerant" for best chances, and choose types with lots of letters and numbers after the name indicating disease resistance. Sadly heirloom tomatoes don't do well down here in the South, either.

Choosing a location with good air flow (the breeziest spot you can find) is probably more important than creating shade in the long run. Most veggies need full sun, and will tolerate even our somewhat tropical sun as long as you water them enough. Water in the mornings, keep the foliage dry when you can, and keep your soapy water, baking soda solution and Bt handy for bug, fungi and caterpillar prevention. We have every bug and fungi down here. They like the warm climate for the same reasons we do.

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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Apr 2, 2018 7:49 PM CST
I'm further north than you but I have found that peppers and cucumbers/melons need some summer shade. Squash, tomatoes, okra do not. Our humidity problem is dry heat, not humid heat. There are some tomatoes that will produce through the summer heat here, mostly cherry types.
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Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
Plant Identifier Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Apr 3, 2018 7:34 AM CST
You say New Orleans, but fail to tell us important considerations like nearby structures and street trees.
You may already have western protection.
Summer shade cloths are being experimented with, but I'd probably try gardening the way I'd always done it and adjust after observation.

While many tomatoes may stop setting fruit after temps stay above 90 degrees, there are plenty of cherry types that keep producing.

While sun scald happens to peppers and tomatoes, you could try simply caging them and see if the natural foliage provides adequate protection...

Plenty of possibilities....

Found this:

Incidentally, I've been growing Everglades tomatoes for several years.... The cats get most of them. And... They self seed...

Personally, I don't think they are sweet enough... Until after the temps cool...
[Last edited by stone - Apr 3, 2018 7:49 AM (+)]
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New Orleans
Apr 6, 2018 9:13 AM CST
Thank you everyone! This is all wonderfully helpful. stone, I have a small plot in a community garden with no western protection. There's a house to the east that provides some brief shade in the morning.

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