Gardening is tougher when it is hot and humid!

This past week was our hottest and most humid so far this year. Our upcoming week has slightly cooler temperatures predicted, but when you look at the heat index, you know the humidity must be a killer, because we are in the low 100’s for feel like temperatures every day! We have a slight chance of rain 2 days, but it doesn’t look like anything measurable. But think back to previous summers. At least our yards are still green, even those yards where no one waters. That could begin to change if this weather pattern continues. Right now, I feel like I have a hose fastened to me. The pots on the deck in particular need daily watering—and even with early morning soakings, I sometimes see some wilting by late afternoon.

This picture was actually a day when I didn't water until 2 pm! And they bounced back within an hour of getting a drink!

While many of us may be wilting with the heat too, our gardens are thriving for the most part—provided they are getting water.

I am hearing a lot of complaints that tomatoes are on standstill for ripening.

When temperatures get above 95, they are slow to ripen. I am still getting a ton of peppers and eggplants, and the squash are slowly coming back. I did not have squash vine borers but I was attacked by two army worms

(or at least that is how many I found!) I am still getting cucumbers and the okra is almost big enough to start blooming –it was a very late planting.

I don’t grow much from seed with the exception of a few vegetables, but this year I scattered some sunflower and zinnia seeds that I found in the garage. Both are blooming.

I think my sunflowers may be a bit confused. I have always thought they all faced the west or the sunny part of the yard, but I have some pointing in all directions.

The summer annuals are the best I have ever had—my gardens are a sea of color—and much of it orange!

I am also covered with Hydrangea paniculata varieties in full bloom all over the yard.

The Strawberry Vanilla (which is just vanilla in Arkansas) is huge this year.

It started out as a bareroot twig in 2013

and 7 years later it is at least 7 feet tall and as wide. It is stunning, but alas, no pink coloration. It has finally gotten strong enough to support the weight of the blooms. I have another unknown variety of paniculata around the water garden that I was sent to trial several years ago. It had gotten too tall, so I cut it back almost to the soil line this spring. Each cane is at least 5 or 6 feet tall, but they are too weak to support the blooms, so I cut a bouquet each week to keep the branches off of the underplanted perennials.

This fall, I am moving it. Mature height does matter in where you plant things. My garden seems to be exploding this year! I always try to evaluate my plants and if something isn’t working, I move it. Better pre-planning would prevent the extra work.

I have enjoyed spending time in the garden this year and watching the daily evolution. I have been seeing butterflies, and finally got some swallowtail caterpillars—no monarchs yet, in spite of milkweed in the yard! I was watching my baby swallowtails,

and they were growing daily on my parsley and fennel. I was showing my son them one day and one of those horrid red wasps swooped in right in front of us and killed one of the caterpillars. I started throwing sticks at the wasp, but missed. Once the caterpillar was dead, I killed the wasp. I think my son thought I was overreacting a bit! I hate wasps! It is amazing that we have any butterflies with all the problems they deal with. I read that there is a 90% mortality rate in most species! I guess it is a dog eat dog world, or a wasp eat caterpillar one. I saw more adult swallowtails today around the parsley and fennel so I will be on the lookout for caterpillars and wasps!

The hotter it gets, the harder it is to spend much time in the garden. I try to get outside as early as possible, because the weeds are not stopping, and the grass still needs mowing. Work smart, drink lots of water and don’t forget to water your plants!

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