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Get your garden through this heat wave

Thursday - 7/18/2013, 7:57am  ET

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Shoppers at the region's farmers markets and specialty restaurants will see a change in product due to this heat wave. (WTOP File)

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WASHINGTON - Gardens are having to deal with this heat wave too, but green thumbs can do a few things to help them out.

While the rain last week helped ease the strain, this extreme weather is stressful for plants, says Fauquier County horticulture extension agent Tim Ohlwiler.

Heat can leave plants victims of disease.

"If plants are stressed out due to a lot of water or the heat, they are more susceptible to these diseases as well," says Ohwiler.

The specific threat is fungal spores, which are responsible for those brown patches on lawns come summertime. Fungicides will kill those, Ohlwiler says. But there is something gardeners can do to spare their plants infected with fungi.

"Lots of times the lower leaves on a tomato plant, for example, there will be spots on them or they will be wilty and browning," Ohlwiler says.

"It's better to pull that off the plant because it ... spreads throughout the plant and neighboring plants."

Beyond the environmental stress, pollination is likely lower as well in this heat, which can make a difference for many crops, Ohlwiler says. He says while bees pollinate, the weather can slow a flower's reproductive system.

While consumers won't notice a difference from this heat wave at the grocery store in a few weeks, Ohlwiler says, shoppers at the region's farmers markets and specialty restaurants will see a change in product due to the weather.

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