Thursday, June 20, 2013

Oh the hot hot heat...what we're learning about gardening in the south.

We had a glorious and long cool spring this year. Our cabbages and cauliflower and broccoli had plenty of time to grow and thrive and there were few bugs out to munch on everything. Yeah, that's over. We broke 90 degrees more than once last week, and things are starting to feel a little more like the icky sticky southern sauna we're slowly becoming accustomed to. So I estimate we have at most a few more weeks before it all dries up and burns/wilts under the sun. In that time, I will need some serious tomato ripening.

Peering into what I lovingly refer to as "Tomato Jungle"

Sweet little cherry tomatoes

It's been an adjustment learning to garden here. There are some advantages and some difficulties that go with our weather. One advantage is that we can have things in the ground pretty much year round here. Unless there's some bizarre cold snap, we can harvest veggies like cole crops and lettuces for a good long while into our coldest days. Things grow slower, but many many plants can survive at least a frost or two. Summer is a different story. The heat is more likely to kill here than the cold, and the humidity means we have to keep a close eye on squash and melons and the like so they don't grow mildew. Last summer, we lost a good amount of our tomatoes to an early July heat wave that hit right as they started to fruit. This year, most of our tomatoes are already getting to full size and ready to ripen. We've been enjoying cherry tomatoes for at least a week and more are on the way.

April eyes a tomato plant.
Still, much of what we're doing is an experiment...last week we pulled out all the rest of the brussels sprouts that were languishing in the garden with nary a sprout in sight. This is the third crop we've done this with, but I'm not quite ready to give up on them, yet. But seeing as they require a really long, preferably cool growing season, it might be a lost cause. We're also giving artichokes a whirl and hoping they can survive both the summer heat and the occasional winter chill. We did harvest one a few weeks ago and it was super yummy.

Gardening is kind of a gamble with a lot of luck, wishing and tinkering thrown in for good measure. Can we eke out another round of carrots in June? No dice. But we'll try again in September and see where that leads. For now I'm watching the thermometer (and the corn) creep up and keeping my fingers crossed for a few more not-sweltering days.

Hoping for a nice ripe cantaloupe soon...mmm

Marigolds and a delicious lemony basil

Tall tall corn

Okra puts out a pretty flower

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