Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hot and Dry, repeat.

Look familiar? You can blame the hot weather if your tomato plants aren't setting fruit!
It happens every year and gardeners pull their hair out, watering and watering hoping to correct the problem. There's nothing that can be done, Mother Nature will eventually cool off and you'll get tomatoes off those vines... just be patient and keep them watered! There's no reason to watch the weather forecast, it's going to be a long, hot summer no matter where you are this year. Arkansas is already facing drought conditions statewide. As bad as that sounds, it's nothing like drought plagued states face with ongoing dry conditions and no relief in sight. 

Lantana- heat lover and very drought tolerent!
My favorite way to water is hand watering, as I walk around the yard I can see the areas that need it the most and give them a little extra. We had a really dry spot at the top of the yard... I say top because our hillside is almost vertical and we all know that water runs downhill! The grass up there is sparse and in some places it's brown. A closer look after planting some purple coneflowers showed the dirt was hard as a rock, we were missing watering that area completely. A few days of hand watering and the grass looks much better. Keeping the newly planted perennials alive may be a trick in this heat.

Setcreasea or "Purple Heart" great plant for hot and dry conditions. 
How you water can prevent some common garden problems. For instance watering some plants from the top, especially beans and cucumbers can bring on mildew. Try your best to get the water to the underside of the plants and you'll save yourself a lot of headaches. One of the best ways to do that is a low flow watering wand or even better, soaker hoses that water slow and deep. You can go about your other yard work while they do the job!

Portulaca - flowers all summer and will thrive in dry hot spots along drive way or walkway, often reseeds in garden!
This time of year when it gets hot and dry, you may notice water seems to run off the top of your soil instead of soaking in. You may be shocked to see it's not went much more than a quarter or half inch deep. This is because of salts accumulating at the surface. Watering deeply will correct this problem. Set the sprinklers up for 45 minutes to flush the salts away. A little digging after you water will tell you if it's soaked in. Mulching is the answer for many areas that need the extra moisture and watering twice a day when the temps are hovering near 100 will save your plants. Watering in the morning allows the plants to dry off quickly and keeps mildew at bay but it also keeps the slugs and snails away. Newly planted seeds or transplants will need diligent watering to keep them alive. And one more thing, don't forget to WEED, they will rob your garden of moisture! 

As hot as it is, it's not too early to start planning for your fall garden. Even if the plants you put in early this spring haven't done so well, the heat won't last forever. If you wait until late summer to plant seeds or transplants, they just might not have enough time before Old Man Winter decides to make his first appearance! 
The first thing you need to know is the average frost date for your area. From that you can determine when to plant your seeds or plants. Start making your list now and buy your seeds. On the back of the package it gives date to maturity... just count back from the date that frost is expected, add an extra week or two if you live in the Ozarks! The only thing you can count on is that you can't count on the weather!

In the kitchen this week.... a couple of great recipes that will keep you cool! Just click on the recipe to print...
red potatoes, scrubbed and halved
1 lb. fresh green beans
large onion, cut into wedges
cups ham chunks
1 -2 can chicken broth
salt and pepper

Add all the ingredients and cook in the crockpot all day on low, 8-10 hours. Serve with fresh sliced tomatoes and cornbread and you have a delicious summer meal!

from Paula Deen's Lady and Son's Cookbook

1 pound cucumbers (about 2 cucumbers), peeled and thinly sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 Vidalia onion, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large serving bowl, toss together the cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, onion, parsley, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper, to taste. Let the salad stand for 10 minutes before serving.


  1. Another drought year here in Arkansas. Bad for gardens, bad for livestock, bad for hay. Those are beautiful Purple Hearts, I may have to try those in my rock garden area.

    1. I thought last years heat was bad here in the Ozarks, at least it didn't come in June. Our weather is changing everywhere. No more "normals." Purple Hearts will come back if our winter doesn't get below 10 degrees. It's a gamble here, but they sure perform in this heat.

  2. We just got about 5-6 inches of rain over the weekend, but with the sandy soil, the only thing that benefits from that is the ground water table. Thanks for the watering tips. I am really a novice at growing anything, all the while I was working, it was a potted annual in the front yard.

    1. Have you ever noticed, Mother Nature doles it out as "too much" or "too little," never "just right!" I have been looking on Accuweather and they show rain for us about 2 weeks out. Of course that can all change, but I have my hopes up. Unusual for us to be hot so early in the summer, it usually comes in August and is short lived. You know, one of my neighbors does her gardening in pots and it looks very nice. I buy flats of annuals and put them all over the yard in flowerbeds.... then spend the summer fretting and watering. I think you may be onto something!

    2. Except for a few years in Chicago, I've lived in hot climates all my life, but this kind of heat usually comes in August, as you mentioned. My parent's have had a nice little crop of tomatoes already, but they are pouring the water to them. It's been a tough year of outside work - fighting moles, heat and the copperheads. I actually think the little moles were worse than the snakes. Good luck everyone!

    3. My poor Dad, moles were the bane of his existence! Every year he would put out traps, put kitty litter, gum or hot water down their holes trying to get them to move on. It never seemed to do the trick!. I've read on gardening sites that if you have a mole problem, it's grubs in your yard they are after. Just treat the grubs and the moles move on! The copperhead problem is really scary!

  3. Good info about the salt in the soil. It is so aggravating to water, water and water and then find "dry as a bone soil" underneath. We have really needed to use our hose a lot this month. Normally, Mother Nature takes care of it all.

    1. I keep finding dry spots all over the yard. This heat is baking even my perennials...arrrg! They haven't started limiting our water, yet. When we lived in Texas we had restrictions but hand held watering was ok, I guess you just use a lot less. I'm looking out on Accuweather and it looks like it's going to cool off in about a week with a chance of rain, I have my fingers crossed!

  4. Have printed out the crock pot recipe....sounds good:)

    1. The crockpot works great in the summer too for easy meals and the bonus of not heating the kitchen up as much as the oven. Mine sets out on the counter most of the time : )

  5. I love green beans, taters and cornbread! This is something I actually make on a regular basis.

    1. Oh yeah baby, country food is soooo good!

  6. Very nice pictures and pretty. Richard

    1. Thanks Richard, it may not be green for long with these 100+ days!


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