Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Giving In to Summer

Even sunflowers hate the sun sometime.

The official start of summer is still ten days away, and yet here we are already with ten days of temperatures over 100 degrees so far this year. Even the leaves of my sunflower are burnt to a crisp.

The heat makes me irritable, particularly when I look at my vegetable garden. Now I fully admit that I bear some responsibility for its sad state. I have focused too much attention on the Lady Bird Lake bed. It is fully mulched and watered on a set scheduled. My own vegetable patch is, well, not.

That might explain why this yellow pencil pod bean looks like this.

I've already ripped out the lemon cucumber after a harvest of one. The suyo cucumbers should come out as well but I'd like to get as least one cucumber from the five plants I started with. I'm not sure that I will.

Last weekend I gave a friend who loves homegrown tomatoes one of mine as a birthday present. I wasn't really joking when I told her that that tomato might represent one-tenth of my entire harvest. The tomatoes aren't blooming because it's too hot, and I think that's part of the problem with the peppers and cucumbers.

The chard has actually lasted longer than I expected but it too is burnt around the edges.

But I will not be defeated entirely. I am just moving on a month earlier to more heat-tolerant plants (although I do wonder how tolerant they will be). I planted some okra and malabar spinach. I am going to plant some sweet potatoes, if my order ever arrives. I also planted some purple hyacinth bean (inedible but heat tolerant) to cover the trellis I put in for the cucumbers.

I also ordered scads of southern peas from Willhite Seed. I ordered Texas pink-eye (hmm, maybe that wasn't a good choice; sounds more like a disease than something edible. I may have ordered in haste), black crowder, Texas cream, California black-eye, and CT pink-eye (well, crap, I didn't realize I ordered two diseases, one for each eye) purplehull.

And you know, the funny thing--I don't even like black-eyed peas, and I'm from the South. I just wanted something that had a better chance of growing, and I could find out as I have with other vegetables, that I like them if I grow them. If nothing else, growing peas will improve my soil.

Over in ornamentals, the story is almost as sad. Most of my cosmos flowers are gone as well, but I let them go to seed and love how the seeds look. I even saved them.

The passionflower overall looks better than this leaf, but it still hasn't bloomed since the one white bloom almost two months ago. The other perennials that should be blooming are instead showing why you should plant them in the fall, and why even drought tolerant plants need supplemental water their first year.

The one plant in my garden doing well, surprisingly well even, is the morning glory. A friend gave me some very delicate looking seedlings two months ago. I didn't think they would even survive being transplanted.

And yet here they are blooming and covering the trellis. I guess that's why I'll keep gardening. Sometimes, something blooms and makes you forget about all the other dismal plant failures!


  1. It is very brutal this spring/summer. I'm watering more than usual, and things still look wilted. My daughter's annual garden has burned to a crisp. I think we'll have to focus on survival this summer rather than thriving.

  2. I hate to hear your cosmos are done - this is the first time I've grown them and they are just beginning to bloom fully. I'll have to enjoy them while I can. I'm with you on the Southern Peas - love to grow them for the sake of growing them, but the daily harvest and shelling is more than I seem to keep up with. Pam's so right - this summer we'll have to focus on survival!

  3. I grow some tomatoes, peppers and salad greens in large pots, and when the heat comes (as it has this month) I shift the pots to dappled shade and am able to extend my harvest. This year I grew Black Krim for the first time and its still flowering and setting fruit. Costoluto Genovese does that, too in the heat. My corno di toro and habanero sauve are also still setting fruit. All theses seeds I got from Renee's Garden.

  4. So very sorry about your beautiful garden plants...It is devastating to go on survival as Pam and mary beth said.


  5. Needing to water well-established, drought-tolerant plants before mid-June just sucks! I extend my sympathies and empathies.

  6. My vegetables are suffering just the same. We are all in the same boat, although gardeners up in Iowa may not like my metaphor! I think the garden can withstand a week of 100 degrees but I'm afraid this is just going to go on and on. Don't worry about those cosmos going to seed as they will be back again in the fall for a fabulous display. In the meantime the American gold finches just love to eat the prickly seeds. I'm keeping my dried up bean seeds to plant later on this year.

  7. Four weeks of August weather already. I always start off with great determination but after four weeks the heat finally gets to me and I lose my resolve. Unfortunately, that's usually in late August not mid-June. I keep thinking, we still have July and August (and no doubt September) to face.

    I'm glad you did a "brown plant" post. I've been thinking of doing the same thing for awhile but now I don't need to.