Something’s burning, something’s burning and it’s my garden. With temperatures in the one hundreds to high nineties for the last few weeks and temperatures expected to stay high without rain, crops and gardens are suffering. Hit and miss afternoon heat of the day showers are predicted for the next week. There’s an irrigation boom in a field nearby and soybeans that irrigation reaches are over a foot tall; those in the same field not reached by irrigation are withering and dying. I couldn’t resist riding my tractor back later and getting a picture of the sunset behind the irrigation booms. The 104 degree down wind coming through the spraying water felt so good. I sat for the longest enjoying the breeze until the mosquitoes brought me back to reality. We may be in a severe drought, but it hasn’t decreased those little buggers. Record high temperatures not seen since 1914 were recorded for the last weekend in June. We saw 108 Friday, 107 Saturday and 106 Sunday. The humidity low humidity helped make it a little more tolerable.
The record heat has really put a damper on my flower photography. Morning is the best time for getting the most vivid colors of daylilies before the sun fades them. However, the daylily blooms are cooking and fading out before they open. I’ve enclosed a few of how some of the blooms normally look versus how they’ve been opening in the one hundred plus degree heat and lack of rain.
I’ve been watering from the time I come home from work until dark each day. Two of three native azaleas in one of my beds have dried up despite mulching and watering. The third looking great, is getting shaded about an hour before the other two. One of my small rhododendrons only getting an hour of sun and watered daily and mulched well is dying from being dug around by armadillos. Time not watering is spent hauling wood chips from several loads left by Sheffield Power for me and mulching.
I finally got my heirloom tomatoes out in the garden and gave away the excess plants. I kept waiting for the ninety degree temps to moderate, but it was past time to have them in the ground as they were over two feet tall and burning up in the greenhouse. I dug a deep hole, and place water retention crystals derived from a plant source in the bottom of the hole and sprinkled some Epsom salts and a time released fertilizer; back filled to a level an inch below the surrounding soil. I have more of the Cherokee Purple tomatoes this year. They seemed to be a favorite of my give aways. Before mulching I put newspaper down around my plants and mulched heavily. The tomatoes responded by doubling in size and putting out some nice tomatoes. I received similar results after mulching my squash plants. This weekend I rode Johnny as I call my John Deere hauling mulch and putting an extra layer around some of the plants showing stress.
Some of my re-blooming iris which normally blooms in September to October are blooming early this year. The hot weather has brought out the butterflies also.
Hummingbirds are starting to hit the feeders now that the flower production is waning. It’s a good time to put up feeders. Don’t use the red dye stuff for feeding. It’s not good for hummers. Think Jim Jones here, as most of the stuff is some sort of drink mix. Use one part sugar and four parts hot to boiling water. Example one fourth cup sugar and one cup water let cool and fill your feeders. Change out every three or four days with clean sugar water and feeder. I use a 10% bleach solution for soaking and cleaning my feeders. Rinse very well before refilling.
Addendum: We finally received rain this morning July 8 around 2 AM during a thunderstorm. The last significant rain we received was on June 4, 2012 when we received 1.98 inches. My neighbor caught a picture of a funnel cloud that day. The story and pictures on ‘The Tuscumbian‘
Also please check out my GRIT magazine blog post.