The dog days of summer can be vicious to many vegetable garden plants. When thermometers start reaching the century mark, and stay there for several consecutive days, it takes a beating on many plants in your vegetable garden.

Although it is extremely difficult to completely fend off those high temperatures, there are a few methods you can use to help ease their affects.

Here are a few important things you can implement in your vegetable garden to beat the extreme summer heat.

Use A Thick Layer of Mulch

Use mulch, mulch and more mulch in your vegetable garden. A quality mulch is one that performs several essential tasks - it helps preserve moisture in the soil, reduces weeds and helps to cool the soil.

An organic mulch such as straw, leaves, compost, or grass clippings work best because not only do they perform the duties above, but they also slowly break down to add organic matter to the soil.

In order to protect your precious vegetable plants during high temperature conditions mulch helps to conserve moisture, which can be critical for the life of the plant. It also shields the soil from direct sunlight which can cool the soil temperature by five to ten degrees.

The thicker layer of mulch you use the better it helps to protect the plants. Using a three to four inch layer of mulch will provide a good source of protection from high temperatures.

Water Deeply With Soaker Hoses

Soaker HoseOnce the temperatures begin to soar it is important to supply your vegetables with plenty of water. It is best to give the plant roots a deep soaking rather than infrequent, quick waterings.

This is best accomplished by using soaker hoses or drip irrigation. Allow soaker hoses to supply a steady drip of water to the plant roots. This will water the plants deeply and keep them happy all summer long.

Be sure to water your vegetable plants according to their requirements. There can sometimes be a fine line between keeping a plant well watered and over watering.

To read about my favorite soaker hose, check out my review of the Gilmour Flat Soaker Hose.

Another great way to water your plants deeply is by using 2-liter soda bottles and watering wells. These will get water directly to the plant roots where it's needed most.

Keep Plants Well Fed With Compost

Many vegetables begin fruiting right when the hot weather begins to hit full swing. Because of this it is important to keep them well fed.

The best way to feed your vegetables is by using copious amounts of compost. Side-dressing your plants with compost will help supply essential nutrients your plants need during high temperatures.

This extra dose of fresh compost can mean the difference between thriving plants and ones that are barely clinging to life.

Provide Some Shade

Proving a little shade to your vegetables during the hottest parts of the day can go a long way towards extending their life. Giving some vegetables shade between 11 am and 3 pm can give them a little relief from the sweltering sun on hot days.

You can use an old bed sheet strung up on poles to block the direct sunlight from blistering your plants. When the temperatures are 100 or more this can be crucial.

The best sunlight for your plants is morning sun. The sun isn't as intense and much softer during the morning hours.

Prepare For Hot Temperatures

It's a good idea to be ready for hot temperatures in your garden by having the mentioned items on hand. It's difficult to predict what type of weather you may have from one season to the next. One season may be extremely hot for long periods of time while the next season might be relatively wet and cooler.

Being prepared for possible high temperatures will give you the ability to reduce its affects much quicker.

Using the above methods aren't a 100% guarantee your vegetable garden will survive intense heat, but they are a solid precautions to take for having a thriving garden even in extreme conditions.

Keep Your Vegetable Garden Well Watered