From: Domino Magazine (August 2005)
You Grow Girl was launched in February 2000, as a community for gardeners not unlike myself; people who want to grow but whose garden space is less than ideal. And for those of us with shallow pockets but a big, crazy love for tending plants and making a meal from homegrown fare, wherever home may be. – Read on…
This has been the hottest, driest summer I can remember in a while. It has been raining around the perimeter of the city on a fairly regular basis, however it has been dry as a bone in my area since June 13! The weather has threatened rain several times; the sky has turned grey, the clouds have formed, only to suddenly turn back to sunny and hot in a flash. As a result I have been watering all of my gardens a lot more than I am used to. And man alive, it has been HARD.
Commence with the tears.
As an example I NEVER water my street garden short of the bucket I dump on new additions. Basically my technique is to dig a hole, fill it with water, wait for the water to soak in, fill it a second time, wait for that to soak, dig in the plant, make a moat around it, pour more water in and let it go. I check on the new addition regularly and pour some water in if it looks like it needs it but I try and grow drought tolerant plants in that garden that can handle some dry periods once their roots have developed and they are solidly settled in.
But this summer has been something else. I got the hose out yesterday afternoon and gave the street garden a good soak for the second time this growing season . I did this only after waiting as long as I felt I possibly could. When the anise-hyssop is wilty there’s just no denying that things are dry and HOT.
That’s the thing about this summer. We’ve had droughts, but the heat has been so intense on top of it. Take my rooftop garden as an example; I water the containers every day of the summer. It just can’t be avoided when you’ve got big water-loving tomatoes in containers. Well, last summer was the exception with temperatures that never did climb much into uncomfortable. I could get away with going a day, sometimes two without watering. But this summer has been crazy. I check my plants twice daily, once in the morning and once in the early evening, hauling bucket after bucket after bucket of water on a repetitive path from my bathtub to the deck and yet I still managed to produce some tomatoes (on one plant only thankfully) with blossom end rot. I know it’s a terrible after all that big talk in my last post about my killer tomato plants. They’re all still doing exceptionally well — the plants love this heat, it’s just a matter of keeping the soil wet.
It’s a jungle. The baby cucumbers are just starting to form!
I finally understand what it’s like for some southern gardeners who throw up their arms and call it quits during the hottest, driest part of the year. I always understood in principle but now I REALLY GET IT in practice. Hauling countless buckets on a twice daily basis only to wake up the next morning to wilty cucumbers and a touch of blossom end rot on a couple of tomatoes sucks. And I water deeply. None of this splashing a bit here and there business. This morning I went through the ridiculous process of hooking the coiled hose up to my bathroom sink and dragging it out through a window because it just made more sense than the hauling of the sloshing water. The one worry I have about this is the environmental soundness of using what seems like a lot of water to grow my tomatoes. Granted I do get a decent show on each plant, my growing practices are good, I’m doing the best I can to keep moisture in under extreme conditions, and I’ll probably be laughing maniacally over handfuls of ripe fruit come September. Still, it does seem a little over-the-top this year. These tomatoes better taste like liquid candy. They will.
A few more pics:
Things are coming along swell on the rooftop garden. In fact, this is turning out to be my best year ever! The weather has been incredibly hot and dry, and as a result I have been out there religiously watering containers, sometimes as much as twice per day. But the combination of heat and consistent watering has resulted in a stellar turnout, especially for plants such as basil and tomato that suffered in last summer’s cool, grey weather.
As promised, a few photos of my rooftop garden in June.
In the foreground you can see lemon cucumber, tomatillos, and peppers.
- A full view from underneath the gazebo – Facing north.
- Facing west (closer) – Sweet and hot peppers in the foreground with purple tomatillos in the grey, oval-shaped container and a tomato in the larger grey container (right side). That’s ‘Siam Queen’ basil hanging out the front of the tomato container. To the left you can see another large grey container (white tray underneath) with a tomato plant and some red rubin basil. It’s hard to see in this pic but I’ve added a decorative trim of twigs that I bent into an oval shape. I did a similar thing to protect the peppers (foreground) from the raccoons that insisted on digging the seedling up every night. Worked like a charm.
Fire escape silver boxes – The box on the left has lavender and various succulents while the box on the right has miniature curry plant and portulaca. The plants underneath are various basils, nicotiana, tangerine gem marigold, and green sausage tomatoes. There’s a silver fir tree tomato hidden back there too. It already has one small tomato!
- An old washbin holds beets, chives and catmint. – This looked exceptionally great when the chives were blooming. I need to fill in that bit of space with something flowering.Leave a comment