Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ain't It Awful the Heat?

Ain't it awful the heat?
Ain't it awful?
Don't know what I'm gonna do.
What a scorcher.
This is torture.
Don't know what I'm gonna do.

Points to anyone who can name the person who wrote the words and the person who wrote the music for this very apt tune. Apt because we are now in our third week of weather with temps in the upper 80s/low 90s. Up until early May, we were enjoying the warm spring because we were getting lots of rain. The lettuce and radishes came up quickly:

Actually, the radishes came up so fast and got so much rain that some of them split in spectacular fashion before I harvested them.

This is the first year that I've used floating row cover. It has done a wonderful job of protecting my seedlings from flea beetles so the lettuce didn't get devoured before having a chance to put out more than a leaf or two. It also protected the tender plants from the late cool snap (Blackberry winter) we had the first weekend in May. Now that we've entered a dry spell, it has helped conserve moisture in the soil. I think it's the only reason that I'm still harvesting lettuce at this stage.

The downside to the row cover is that I don't see what's going on under the cover as frequently as when I can just glance down at the bare ground. Weed seedlings get more of a foothold when I don't lift up the cover for days at a time. And while water gets through the cover, I think it runs off and pools in depressions a bit more than if I were watering the ground directly. That may have something to do with why I've had a lot of seeds that haven't germinated.

Of course, that could also be due to the scorching heat and lack of rain over the past few weeks. In that time, we've only had one tiny shower and that only moistened the ground but didn't soak it. After a lazy spring where I didn't have to water the garden much at all, I finally hooked up the hoses to the rain barrel last week. It only took a week to empty all 85 gallons of rainwater. Fortunately, I have a second rain barrel but I'm already well into that one and no big rain is in the forecast. I find myself scanning the weather map each afternoon, desperately hoping to see those fabled "isolated thunderstorms" on the radar in our area. We've been teased with a lot of late afternoon thunder but no downpours. On the bright side, I hope to have fewer problems this year with tomato blight given how little rain we're getting.

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