In the heat of the summer

The heat that started in early June has settled in. We can expect it to break sometime in October, which is generally when our first cool front hits. While others are experiencing bounty in their gardens, we are trying to nurse our plants through the rash of 100 degree days we continue to have.

Making my garden a little more challenging/out of my control this summer was a trip to Virginia. My family all lives out of town, mostly in the Shenandoah Valley. Due to shoulder surgery and wanting my kids to spend quality time with their grandparents, we were gone for an entire month. I left the garden in the hands of my husband and some friends who were housesitting.

My husband kindly weeded and mulched the garden. The mulching was essential to help retain the precious little water the plants get over the summer months. His other garden project was to tie into our irrigation system for the front yard and bury a pipe to the garden (about a 25 yard or so distance). My husband is a plumber by trade, so installing a faucet right next the garden proved to be no problem. This project was mostly inspired by convenience. He was tired of having to move the hose every time he mowed. This time of year, it isn't much of a problem, because he is not mowing the backyard at all.

However, we did suffer one plant casualty in the weeding and mulching. My husband's time in the garden is generally very limited, so he doesn't know the plants so well. He carefully left my dying nasturiums intact (they don't like our heat) and diligently pulled our struggling butternut squash plants. After being initially saddened by the loss of the squash, I recovered and was able to see the humor in it.

Our heirloom tomatoes are just barely managing to hang on and produce. The tomatoes are not examples of perfection. The stress of the heat makes it difficult for them to fight diseases and pests. I will need to cut bad spots off of these tomatoes, but I'm pleased that they are still producing despite the heat we've been having and the limited water. I have tried hard to stick to our city's mandatory watering schedule which limits watering to 2 days a week.

I will try to nurse my tomato plants through to the cooler weather. I talked to an owner of a nursery at our farmer's market on Saturday and he recommended keeping them alive so they will produce again in the fall. I can't plant heirlooms for the fall growing season because they are indeterminates. I need to stick to the determinates. Hopefully, at least my Good Germans and Cherokee Purples (my favorite of all the heirlooms) will make it!