Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Surveying the Gardens - Taking Measures To Combat the Heat
The temps have been in the low to mid-nineties now for over a week and there's no relief at least until early next week and that relief is upper eighties. No rain is predicted except for spotty thunderstorms. The rain dance outfit is singing a tune. Please bring some moisture Mother Nature. Tonight, the hose got a three-hour workout and that won't stop now until the rains come. With three fairly large beds and my anal way of watering (I won't use a sprinkler, don't have a soaker hose, and I water at the base of every plant for a minute or so so the moisture soaks in well), the watering won't stop because by the time I'm done with all three beds, it's time to go back and start over. But it was a good time to get up close and personal with the plants and take a survey on what's going on with them. The most noticeable and exciting observance is the heirloom tomatoes. I plant a "mix" on purpose to be surprised at what I'm going to get. Heirlooms are so much fun. It's also fun trying to identify what they are. Three years ago, I ended up with Roman Stripe, Peach, Black Krim, Fox Cherry, an unidentified huge orange tomato, and a yellow semi-small tomato I also couldn't identify. It appears I'm going to have more roman stripes (loved them - great for slicing and drying), and I believe the Peach tomato is in the mix also. Gonna be a great tomato year as long as the late blight stays away (no signs yet). I also noticed how the bean varieties differ in stalk strength. The soybeans, for example, are very sturdy and stand straight up at attention. There's no leaning or lying over -- just straight up and strong. But the limas in comparison, are all lying over (they are a bush variety). The same with the kidney beans vs the black beans: the kidneys are wobbly but the blacks are fairly sturdy. Interesting. I also noticed my homemade composted horse manure/grass clipping mulch is doing a great job at keeping the moisture in but I have to cut a hole in it to GET the moisture in. It acts like a barrier and the water runs off. So I dig a little hole at the base of the plant to make sure the water gets in. I noticed it most in the tomatoes... I watered a couple days ago but today they were stressed from lack of water. Apparently the water didn't penetrate the mulch enough. The winter squash are everywhere. They are vining like crazy and I'm going to have a ton of squash. There's spaghetti, butternut, and sweet dumpling squash. I'd wager I'll harvest 500 pounds total. I don't think I'll have any problem hitting the 1,000 pound harvest marker. Dang. The broccoli is holding up quite well in the heat -- I'm surprised. I have about a dozen heads I'm nurturing to maturity with a cool dose of water every other day. And how are YOUR gardens surviving the heat?