Tuesday, July 25, 2006


We had a week break from the heat. In fact, a few nights this past week, we've had the air conditioner turned off.

This fact astounds me. It has been years since I've lived in Texas, but I am still of a mind that once the heat comes, there is no break till the fall.

Saturday, I did some editing in the garden: weeding, pulling out and cutting back plants that are now spent in their blooming or that have started to crowd out other plants. I didn't finish, but I got enough done to pull my garden back from that fine line between natural style and weedy vacant lot.

The forsythia keeps spiking up tall. I removed the longer canes without fine shaping the plants. I pulled out more of the obnoxious aster that is not worth the blooms. One thing in their credit, however, the j. beetles eat it. Same as a simple broad leaf weed that gets up to a foot or two. I still pull them out. The weeds, that is. I leave some of the asters.

I cut back lilacs and spirea. The monardia (bee balm) is almost over, the pink going first. The reds are almost at the end, and I began to deadhead them. My rose campion is in seed as is the purple columbine. I gather some of the seed and spread it in areas where I'd like to see them sprout. We'll see.

I am already starting to think about fall divisions of perennials. On Saturday, I cut back a lot of purple coneflower and white daisies and gave them to a neighbor as cut flowers. These plants need thinning.

I also cut back the nepita, or catmint, causing one townlet walker to comment on the fragrance, something the cats in the neighborhood also notice. Pruning them back gets rid of woody stems that have already bloomed, and will possibly allow for another crop of flowers toward the end of summer.

And I am cutting back the zagreb coreopsis, too. The blooms are prolific, but not endless.

My mind is still restless as I wander the garden, but less than it used to be. Perhaps it is my energy that has lessened. Or because it is summer and I need brisk cool air to really get my gardening gumption going.

Out in the vegetable garden, the tomatoes are finally staring to ripen, again way past sense of timing learned in a hotter place. It's late, yes, but I am delighted to again indulge in tomatoes.


Shelley said...

Our heat is coming back tomorrow. I find myself beaten down by it lately.

Sun warmed tomatoes. The only thing better is sun warmed peaches and just ripe cherries. Then there's the cucumbers, with their clean scent and fresh taste.

Nothing beats food from a garden.

Repellent Review said...

It's been 100 plus here in WA. It definitely drains you. Had to keep an extra flow of water going on my roses... which are getting bugs... uggh.

Nothing like the humidity you get in the south though.

Don said...

Shelley -- now that I think about it, eating food from the garden is one of those old ways of organizing/living that is no longer the norm. I agree. I devour fresh tomatoes.

Repellent -- Indiana is not so south (although I guess it is in comparison to Washington State). I have yet to have to water my perennials this year. The rainfall has been above average and the temps have only crossed 90 degrees (F) a few times.

Like Shelley, I slow down when it gets hot.

Tim said...

Hi Don! Let me introduce myself…my name is Tim. My wife, Sara, and I do our gardening on one of the Gulf Islands off the coast of British Columbia, Canada. I do the vegetables, while Sara does the flowers. “Do” in this case means facilitate…we both know that the real “doing” belongs to a Higher Power.

My tomatoes are clustering and growing in size, but alas, they’re as green as the fresh cut grass. Even though the Canadian version of the heatwave has been with us until today, all that hot sun barely made any difference in the tomato reddening process.

I have to follow your example and start trimming the excess branches. The trouble is, they are still flowering, and I’m hoping for more tomatoes. In fact, we feed all our plants—both flowers and vegetables—with a 100% organic nutrient called Iguana Juice, Grow and Bloom. It is made by a wonderful Canadian company, called Advanced Nutrients, but they distribute world-wide.

Since we started using their products, we’ve had nothing but robust, huge vegetables, and prolific, healthy flowering plants. Another of their miracle products is called Scorpion Juice (they seem to like provocative names) which is used as a foliar spray and inoculates out plants against all sorts of pathogens.

They also make powders that strengthen the root systems by colonizing them with beneficial fungi and bacteria. These are called Piranha and Tarantula (no kidding). A visit to their website is well worth the effort. Gardening with Advanced Nutrients sure beats compost and manure gardening, hands down.

Please visit our website, to see some really nice photos of Sara’s flowers. I’m trying to be modest, but I took the photos. It’s real easy, with these new digital cameras. All you have to do is to click it onto the extreme close-up setting and aim and shoot. It helps to turn the flash off, since natural light pictures are so much better.

I wonder if the heatwave will return? It probably will, but our garden is enjoying a brief, cool respite. It’s been heavy clouds all day, but so far it hasn’t rained, so I turned on the sprinkler system. During the hot days and when we’re away, it works on an automatic timer.

Some gardeners don’t like sprinklers, because they say that overhead watering causes mold infestations and diseases. With Scorpion Juice and the other fine products we use, luckily we don’t have to worry about that! (Knock on wood!)

Rob+ said...

Hello there Don,

I haven't had much occasion to spend time in the blogoshpere lately, so I thought I'd do some catching up and see how you are doing. Sounds like you are having a nice summer.

I am envious you have had so much rain! Though I think we may be above average as well, it has come all at once in infrequent but very heavy rainfalls. That has meant long dry spells and frequent watering.

Do you have alot of Japanese beetles this year? The big blessing of this year is that we hardly have any. Don't know why, but I'm not complaining!

We had a nice break in the heat at the end of July as well. I turned off the AC for almost a week and loved it. Then this last week its been brutal, but it's cooling down again now. I don't mind the heat so much as long we get these little breaks of cool weather every so often. Not like FL (and it sounds like Texas) where when it got hot, it stayed hot (which might be from April to November!)

Shelley said...

Just saying hi, Don, and hoping you haven't melted.

Don said...

Rob -- the j. beetles came on late, but strong and then faded away. The roses bloomed before they came, but they did quite a number stripping all my hollyhocks. I have yet to water my perennial beds this year. The rains have come, like Camelot, with great regularity.

Shelley -- thank you for the encouraging word. We've had some heavy heat, but nothing like the rest of the country, including St. Louis. Maybe Indiana is the new California.

M Sinclair Stevens (Texas) said...

I like the new design...it's probably not so new. It's been awhile since I've read your blog by going to the site rather than looking through my rss reader.

Texas is being more miserable this summer than average. Our average number of 100+ days is ten. As of August 21, we were up to 26. And after Katrina and Rita last year, I can't bring myself to pray for hurricanes.

Don said...

M. -- I'm sorry that it's been so hot in Austin. Maybe the heat will break early this year.