What To Do In The Garden In The Deep Of Summer Heat And Drought?


By Jannie Vaught,

Keep the perennials somewhat alive and prune, prune, prune!!

Today was somewhere shy of 109 with no rain and water restrictions. What’s a gardener that is deeply invested in the growing of all things green to do? Take a breath and make hard decisions. Cut back or remove the spring items that were so happy and productive a few weeks back. Tomatoes gone, peppers a few still bearing, but on their way out. All the squash vines are dead anyway. The few test plots are holding, but have finished like the sugar cane and broom sourgum. They got harvested today. The test plot of Kenaf a fiber plant that paper is made from, when you see tree fee paper it is kenaf or hemp, it has yet to flower and produce seeds so it’s getting a tiny bit of attention. And the Tera Beds that I installed are doing the best! More to come on those. And the new wicking bed I made from an old bathtub has done well also.

The herbs all got a short haircut this morning and are tied up drying for fall and winter use. Loads of oregano, some basil, culinary sage, and tarragon. The turnip seed is dry and ready to be cleaned for the seed library and saying all that again makes me tired and too hot to move more than a few inches from some shade. Here the scoop on the terra beds. Since water is a big issue here and especially now, I have been researching for a way to grow food with little water and a small investment of money. I found some information on wicking beds that really made sense. It is, in essence, a large scale self-watering pot. I have done this with regular flower pots but this was now possible as I had rescued an old metal bathtub from the neighbors when they remodeled. I put it up on cinder blocks so it was up off the ground and I could place a can to catch any drizzle water from the drain. They  are done, I placed 2, 8inch PVC pipe that I had drilled holes in about every 4 inches side in the pipe that would lay on the bottom of the tub. Then I placed a good amount of course sand over these. Then I glued a cat food can over the drain knowing it would leak. Then I placed a piece of burlap over the pipe and sand. Then I placed 4, 8 inches long and 1-inch size PVC scrap pieces of pipe, standing up in each corner. These are to water the bottom with. Over that 8 inches of composted straw from the chicken yard. Then several bags of organic potting soil to get it almost level. (it will drop)I placed this under the outer drip line of a Rose of Sharon tree so it would have partial shade. I watered it by placing the hose in the small upright pipe and you could hear it gurgle as it filled the lower tank which then wicks up to the soil and the roots of the plants.

I planted tomatoes and sage and yellow squash. All that’s left is the tomato and the sage but black eye peas have gone in. The only problem is the ants love it. Its a bad year for ants of all varieties. This has been a very successful way to grow with limited water and easy access. I fed once and it grew very well. The Terra Bag Fabric raised garden bed. 100 gallon has been the best so far for low water use and growing. I have two on a rock outcrop, and they are growing great. I did place 8 inches of composted straw in the bottom it makes a form of wicking bed and that has worked great. They last 5 years so they say in their advertising and a few more will be coming this way as I am so pleased with the easy install and the growing success.

So as we venture down the road of a very hot summer we know that the season has come to a sudden close, we learn how to do it a little better with less water and we plan for that next season.

Fall garden!!

Yes, the best garden I grow here!! Isn’t it a happy thought to consider cooler temperatures and rain, as we again shovel the soil and make ready for another great growing season. Greens and cabbage here we come. Growing green with Jannie