Did I Mention It’s Hot?

This has been the hottest, driest summer I can remember in a while. It has been raining around the perimeter of the city on a fairly regular basis, however it has been dry as a bone in my area since June 13! The weather has threatened rain several times; the sky has turned grey, the clouds have formed, only to suddenly turn back to sunny and hot in a flash. As a result I have been watering all of my gardens a lot more than I am used to. And man alive, it has been HARD.

Commence with the tears.

As an example I NEVER water my street garden short of the bucket I dump on new additions. Basically my technique is to dig a hole, fill it with water, wait for the water to soak in, fill it a second time, wait for that to soak, dig in the plant, make a moat around it, pour more water in and let it go. I check on the new addition regularly and pour some water in if it looks like it needs it but I try and grow drought tolerant plants in that garden that can handle some dry periods once their roots have developed and they are solidly settled in.

But this summer has been something else. I got the hose out yesterday afternoon and gave the street garden a good soak for the second time this growing season . I did this only after waiting as long as I felt I possibly could. When the anise-hyssop is wilty there’s just no denying that things are dry and HOT.

Some of the rooftop plants just a few days ago.

That’s the thing about this summer. We’ve had droughts, but the heat has been so intense on top of it. Take my rooftop garden as an example; I water the containers every day of the summer. It just can’t be avoided when you’ve got big water-loving tomatoes in containers. Well, last summer was the exception with temperatures that never did climb much into uncomfortable. I could get away with going a day, sometimes two without watering. But this summer has been crazy. I check my plants twice daily, once in the morning and once in the early evening, hauling bucket after bucket after bucket of water on a repetitive path from my bathtub to the deck and yet I still managed to produce some tomatoes (on one plant only thankfully) with blossom end rot. I know it’s a terrible after all that big talk in my last post about my killer tomato plants. They’re all still doing exceptionally well — the plants love this heat, it’s just a matter of keeping the soil wet.

It’s a jungle. The baby cucumbers are just starting to form!

I finally understand what it’s like for some southern gardeners who throw up their arms and call it quits during the hottest, driest part of the year. I always understood in principle but now I REALLY GET IT in practice. Hauling countless buckets on a twice daily basis only to wake up the next morning to wilty cucumbers and a touch of blossom end rot on a couple of tomatoes sucks. And I water deeply. None of this splashing a bit here and there business. This morning I went through the ridiculous process of hooking the coiled hose up to my bathroom sink and dragging it out through a window because it just made more sense than the hauling of the sloshing water. The one worry I have about this is the environmental soundness of using what seems like a lot of water to grow my tomatoes. Granted I do get a decent show on each plant, my growing practices are good, I’m doing the best I can to keep moisture in under extreme conditions, and I’ll probably be laughing maniacally over handfuls of ripe fruit come September. Still, it does seem a little over-the-top this year. These tomatoes better taste like liquid candy. They will.

A few more pics:

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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10 thoughts on “Did I Mention It’s Hot?

  1. Is there a hose somewhere at the community plot? Your little green sausage tomato IS very cute! The lemon cucumber had a nice flush of (so far) all male flowers this morning. Was such a pretty sight!

  2. It really is so hot. Ottawa is similar (although we have had one spell of rain since June, I believe). I water my containers twice a day too and they never seem to get enough.

  3. Oh Gayla, I feel your pain. I could water the containers twice a day if I had the energy or patience. I’m on a well so it’s doubly stressful. Thank god it has rained here a few times – and I think they’re calling for more soon. I am as bedraggled as the plants, at this point. Hey! Today is going to be 34! 44 with the humidex! FANTASTIC!

  4. Assertagirl: Ya we have a hose at the plot. It is actually hooked up to a tap of the home of one of the other plot members and is rigged up over an alley… It’s a crazy system. I try to use it as infrequently as possible but we’d be in trouble without it this summer. Even the flower borders that are watered next to never have been desperate at least once.

    Genny: I watch the forecast dilegently but so far they’ve been wrong everytime here in Toronto. They say it’s going to be hot like that all week and then “maybe” rain on Saturday which I’m translating as “not going to happen”.

  5. I feel your pain, sister.

    Last week I was talking to my friend who lives up by Steeles, she said her garden was delightfully moist and loamy, and the air was misty and cool, because it had just poured up there. This was the SECOND time since the middle of June (that I know of!) that it rained buckets up in North York and nary a drop down in the south of the city.

    Talk about microclimates.

    Anyone know any rain dances?

  6. Gayla,
    I would never wish this Southern summer heat
    on anyone, but?”Welcome to Texas!” …seriously
    …it sounds like you are just down the street
    from me rather than hundreds of miles to the

    If I don’t get up by 7am to water, then it gets
    too hot to be outside for any length of time in
    the sun after 9am! I am dreading the water bill
    next month…. I hope we all get some rain soon!

    Your patio looks like a wonderful place to lounge
    in the evenings; I hope you are finding some time
    to relax and enjoy your accomplishments. Thanks
    again for the great site.

  7. ha! and to think here, we’ve had nothing but rain– i don’t think we’ve had three sunny days since may! they keep telling us sun is coming, but it ain’t so…

    why can’t we just share??? (maybe the weather needs to learn the sharing song…”it’s mine but you can have some, with you i like to share it, cause if i share it with you, you’ll have some too!)

  8. We have had so much rain here this summer (NC mountains) my rain barrels are always totally full. I am actually dragging my tomato pots into the warm sunny spots between the clouds to dry them out! It really is a shame we can’t share.

  9. Wimps!And I say that with love and affection… I garden in Los Angeles, California. The last time we had rain was somewhere in early March, and today the temp was 101 out on my patio. Gardening in extreme heat is tough, but I don’t know any better. I LOVE the site… it reminds me of my garden club, the Germinators – a bunch of art freaks that got together because we realized we were talking more about plants at openings than what was in the galleries!
    About the tomato thing – funnily enough, I barely water mine, even in this heat. I met a grower who used the dry farming technique on his tomato plants and it creates very meaty fruit with intensely concentrated flavor and not a trace of mealiness.
    I’m going to read the entire site, and later on tonight I’m starting on the book. You’ve found a new fan, Gayle!

  10. strange, gayla, that we’ve had the same heat here in southeast michigan (and i feel like we usually have similar weather as toronto)… but we’ve had tons of rain on top of it. to me, it’s been perfect summer weather. having grown up in st. louis where it’s hot hot hot and humid all the time, i love the touch of it we get in michigan– 85 and humid is great. now 95 and dry, that’s a different story…

    i’ll try to direct the jet stream your way and get you some drops of liquid soon….

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