Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

Gardening in Hell is a Challenge July 27, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 8:35 am
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Extreme heat has settled in for the long haul, it appears.  The afternoons are a struggle, just to feel normal after being outside for any amount of time.  I think the stress is equally evident in the garden as on the gardeners.  I’m struggling to determine whether it cost-effective to continue watering plants with little or no production.  My jalapenos and other peppers are small and sparse and the plants require lots of water.  I can buy a bag of fat, large jalapenos at the farmer’s market for $4.00.  I pulled up a couple of shishito pepper plants this morning, because they weren’t thriving.   The cucumbers are showing signs of prolonged stress and production has nearly stopped.  I still have a watermelon on the vine, but it is sucking up water as well.

The 3 tomato plants left over from Spring, that were showing new growth and trying to flower, are looking pretty bad, despite daily watering.  I think I might pull these up as well, and focus on the plants I’m babying for Fall.

Spring Tomato Plant

Fall tomatoes

The tomato plants I transplanted a couple of weeks ago have nearly doubled in size.  They remain in their gallon pots, where I can control the water better than in the raised beds, which drain too well for extreme heat and drought.  I have been keeping the soil moist, giving them a drink of compost tea every 3 days, top dressing with worm castings, and giving them a tiny bit of 8-2-4 once a week.  So far so good.  It’s almost like having pets.

It’s time for my “What to Plant in August” post, and looking at my lists, I can’t imagine another month of this heat.  However, the list is long and, Fall is right around the corner.  I think I’ll amend and turn my soil in the wee hours of the morning Saturday and Sunday, and hold off planting anything for Fall until the second half of the month.  I do long for lazy Fall weekend mornings drinking coffee in the abundant garden again.

There is good garden news however, the citrus will be ripening soon, and I have Meyer Lemons, Key Limes and Satsuma Oranges to look forward to!


13 Responses to “Gardening in Hell is a Challenge”

  1. Kristi Says:

    Love the title (just spewed coffee across the desk laughing) and completely appreciate the sentiment. I pulled up everything but the most heat tolerant plants so it’s slim pickings in the patio garden now.

  2. Kristi Says:

    We actually have earth to dig in if we decide to get adventurous, but it is heavily shaded. Sounds like a job best scoped over a glass of wine.

  3. Shelley Says:

    Well, if an Ace gardner like you is struggling, then I don’t feel so bad. I’ve pretty much given up on everything except my basil and chives. The rest is kaput and I’m pulling it up and putting it out of its misery this weekend. Like you said, no reason to waste water. Lord knows we don’t need the water supply to get any tighter with this drought. Hell, indeed.

    • Don’t feel bad at all, this weather is far from hospitable to anything. I’m keeping my herbs safe on the patio under dappled shade of a pecan tree and they are doing fine. Fingers crossed for that system in the Gulf to develop and bring us a gullywasher. Or a slow, steady rain would be better.

  4. emptyowe Says:

    Ok I think you officially just gave me permission to give up on my spring tomatoes too.
    Mine just didn’t produce this year. I’m transplanting my fall babies this morning into bigger containers like you suggested.
    I’m hoping for a good fall garden this year! This summer is brutal and has me considering a move to the North Pole.

  5. AngryRedhead Says:

    My tomatoes also look a bit sad, but it’s something I’ve been expecting. Production has slowed, but I know they have a solid root system and will rebound when temps cool. I think I just got lucky though. It’s smart to concentrate on the fall garden right now with plans and what not. I planted yard long beans a few days ago, and they’re germinating nicely. I was surprised to discover that they’re fine to grow in this kind of heat.

    • I thought I’d hang in and coax them back to total health and productivity, but just decided I’d rather be amending and turning the soil to make it nutrient rich for the Fall crops. I’ll be ordering seeds here shortly and plan on starting some inside. Good luck with your beans! Keep me posted on how they do.

  6. Marc O. Says:

    If I ever get myself out to the garden to do any prolonged work (aside from picking okra and hacking back the passion vine that is taking over the earth), I am going to try whacking back the tomatoes to a 1/3 their size and see what happens. Maybe they’ll come back with rain for the Fall. In fact, my romas and viva italias seem very happy, they just aren’t setting fruit. But yes, the dilemma about watering and wasting water seems pretty real to me, too.

    • I can barely bear to water in the morning, yet I want to be amending and turning the soil, etc. I can’t make myself go out there after 8:00 a.m. My Fall tomatoes in gallon pots are all I care about in the garden at the moment, although there are some peppers and watermelon hanging in. The weather forecast looks grim, so I’ll mostly take August off from gardening, for the first time ever, unless something changes.

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