July has made up for the cool and wet May and June–and then some. Half of the days this month have been over 90. We even had a 100 degree day. Heat advisories have reached as high as 115+. That is some serious heat. Coupled with this, we have had only 3.4 inches of rain. Granted, most seasonal crops now love heat, but not such an extreme, prolonged heat.
When plants are broiling in high temps, many stop the reproductive cycle in order to stay alive. Tomatoes will drop their blossoms when overnight temps stay over 75 for an extended period. Corn may not pollinate in temps higher than 95. I personally am picking a lot of tomatoes right now, but I do not see a lot of new fruit forming. My cucumber vines are strong and huge with prolific blossoms, but few fruits are forming. My peppers are still producing well. Most of the summer squash vines have been taken out by vine borers so it has slowed to a trickle. The Zucchino Rampicante is big and lovely, but not a lot of new fruit is forming. Looks like we will see a drop in temps later this week and I sure hope it is for good.
Extreme heat is hard for us as well. I am picking as early as possible and spending the afternoons in the house doing canning or in the pool. Many, many a time, I have been out and can felt heat exhaustion coming on. I had been pretty careless about it in the past, pushing through the dizziness and pounding of blood in my head, but have been much more careful recently. Here are the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stoke from the CDC.
I take lots of water out with me–as many as 3 liter-sized bottles. A good, long drink goes a long way toward keeping you comfortable and safe. I usually wear thin, long-sleeved shirts. Long sleeved shirts protect arms from scratches and a shirt soaked in sweat cools you more than bare skin. I also mist myself with a hose. Some like to garden in hats, but hats have always bothered me. I don’t mind the sun on my face, but hate sweat running into my eyes. I have some buffs–stretchy water wicking headbands I really like. I am usually so soaked with water and sweat that I strip my dirty clothes off on the porch and dump them right into the washer. (Yet another great reason to live in a place where no one can see you.)
Obviously, growing in extreme and dry weather requires more irrigation too, but I won’t get into that today.
Blackberries started coming ripe this week and I am happy it is going to be a light harvest this year 😉