Dealing with the heat wave
This weather has been amazing and the forecast is for several more warm to hot days. I know it’s July in Ohio but enough is enough. We all have friends, family or neighbors who have lost something during the past week’s storms. One friend’s new convertible now has no top, another’s car was in the garage only to have a large tree cave in the roof, one of my favorite farmer market vendors has lost several peach trees, streets are closed due to downed trees and electric is out all over the place. Nature’s pruning techniques has done quite a job on the old, large, unhealthy hollow trees that have toppled down all over the county with the high winds.
The gardens are suffering and the crops in the fields are also in sad shape. Relief in the terms of rain just doesn’t seem to be in the foreseeable forecast. So what do we do? With water restrictions in place, our watering schedule needs to be handled with careful thought. Plan on going out to water in the early morning before the heat of the day hits, or late in the evening if desired. Gardening anytime during the day is out unless you want to end up in the hospital being hydrated by an IV drip.
Those hanging baskets really need some fertilizer this time of year. My recommendation is to fertilize one time weekly. Water your hanging plants then follow with a shot of basic liquid fertilizer so that it doesn’t just run through the plant and out the hole. Beginning in mid July or early August, start using a bloom booster choice of fertilizer, one higher in phosphorus, like 10–52-10 variety, also one time weekly. Visit your local nursery for their selections.
With all the great summer sales at nurseries, it’s a tough decision to buy or not during this hot spell. Planting a new perennial, tree or shrub will require careful watching and lots of water. Make sure you plan ahead or wait a few days to see if we will finally get a break coming up soon with slightly lower temperatures.
So let’s take care of ourselves first. Plan your gardening time during the early morning or early evening hours. It’s still warm but bearable. Put on some much needed bug spray and head outside. Work in small sessions; take frequent breaks and drinks lots of water. Wear a big hat, light weight, light colored clothes and apply a good SPF sunscreen.
Cooling cloths are a new item that has been popping up. I’ve seen more and more of these in catalogs over the last couple of years. My favorite is an Arctic Chill Cloth that you wet and roll up to place around your neck. It stays cool for hours and feels great during those short times in the garden. Made of a material that uses special polymers, you wet it, shake it out and use it all day long. I ordered mine from isabellacatalog.com but you can get different versions from other sources.
Cooling off with edibles: Put a Popsicle in a glass and pour chilled club soda over the top. The Popsicle will gradually melt, if you don’t eat it before, and it will leave a nice flavored soda behind. Make fruit ice cubes, freeze whole fruit like watermelon, berries and grapes. Make a pitcher of spa water. Add orange, lime or lemon slices to either still or fizzy water in a pitcher with a few sprigs of mint out of the garden and you will have a great pitcher of water for the entire day to enjoy. The possibilities are endless; add berries, watermelon cubes, lemon verbena for different flavors.
Take advantage of all the produce in the garden and at the farm markets to make your meals “no cook,” or use the grill so you don’t heat up the house. Vegetables of all kinds can be stir fried in a basket on the grill or eaten raw. Quick pastas are another good choice, since it requires only heating up a pot of water. Throw in fresh cut veggies, some cheese, pasta water to thicken and you have quick healthy pasta. Salads and smoothies are perfect choices during this hot weather. For most smoothies, use fresh or frozen fruit as a base, top with almond milk, coconut water or liquid of your choice. Blended, this makes a great hot day drink for lunch or breakfast. I attended an herb gathering in Indiana over the weekend and our speaker, Stacy Walter’s favorite breakfast drink is: kale, spinach, blueberries, strawberries, coconut water, half of a banana and a mint sprig. Blend thoroughly and enjoy a healthy, cool way to start your day.
Visit the local shops in town that sell ice cream, yogurt, Italian ice and iced coffee or tea. An evening stroll downtown will get you out of air conditioning for some fresh air and gently remind you that cooler times are ahead.
I hope to see a forecast that will give us all a much needed break. Remember the good old days when we didn’t have air conditioning in our homes or cars…….how did we make it through?
Mark your calendars
The Delaware County Master Gardener Association will have its annual plant sale at the Delaware County Fairgrounds from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 28, and from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. or sold out on Sunday, July 29. The plant sale will be held in conjunction with the original Delaware Country Farmers Market.
The plant sale will feature numerous varieties of colorful annuals and perennials such as hostas, daylilies as well as many other varieties of perennials at very reasonable prices; selection varies depending on participation from local Delaware County nurseries. Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer questions about plant care. This event is open to the public. All proceeds will go toward education and beautification projects through the Delaware County OSU Extension / Master Gardner Program.
This is a great event to acquire plants to beautify your garden and help our community at the same time.
Susan Liechty is a Delaware County Ohio State University Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.