Gardening in the heat

We have just closed out a week of high temps and humidity resulting in ‘feels’ like >100 degrees Fahrenheit. The amount of gardening done here was minimal, which translated means the only time I ventured outside was to water or pick ripe berries. Don’t ask me how many books I read.

This week I’m happy to say the temps are more July like which means the forecast includes high 80’s to low 90’s. I can work with that. The raspberry bushes are loaded, and the flowers are in full bloom.

I have three huge tomato plants that are looking great and a tank full of lettuce. I’m trying to keep the delicious lettuce from bolting by putting a beach umbrella over it. Seems to be working.

Then I have a gardening mystery.

This spring, we wanted to level a tank and install an additional one. We emptied the large one to level it and filled them both with super loam that included compost purchased from a local company that we have successfully dealt with for over twelve years.

The berries planted in the small tank are alive, not growing, and look somewhat petrified.

The plants should be 12-18″ tall and bushy. Not so much.

The three tomatoes and marigolds planted in the leveled and refilled tank were the same as the ones in the above tank, planted on the same day, fertilized and watered exactly the same.

They sit about 3′ apart so they have the same sun exposure. The outlier here is the soil. I contacted the company looking for feedback, included info and photos. No response.

So, what are we going to do? The only feasible thing seems to be to shovel it out again and start over because clearly this soil is negatively impacted by something which is pretty obvious when marigolds won’t even grow.

I always chuckle as these issues arise because I think back to the days when my grandparents sunk seeds in the ground, watered, hoed, and harvested. Simple. Today, we deal with every kind of pest, flying or walking, disease, off the chart weather, and compromised soil that we actually pay for. If you’re a gardener, I’m sure you can add to this list.

So, on a gorgeous Saturday, we drove north to McKenzie’s Farm in Milton, NH, where we picked up delicious cherry tomatoes, blueberries, ciabatta bread, and, of course, cider donuts.Β For the weekend at least, I let someone else do my gardening and baking.Β Β πŸ™‚

About Judy @ NewEnglandGardenAndThread

Master Gardener who enjoys gardening, quilting, photography, and traveling.
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73 Responses to Gardening in the heat

  1. Dan Antion says:

    I like the part about our gardens vs. our parents’ gardens. My grandmother and my dad bought seeds at the local hardware store, stuck them in the ground and tended to them. I don’t remember either one ever adding anything other than manure on a couple occasions.

    The heat gave way to a very nice weekend, and what looks to be a nice week ahead. I hope you get caught up with the demands of your garden. The flowers and berries look great.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Claudette says:

    Those berries would taste good on my cereal this morning. Love your flowers. Claudette

    Liked by 1 person

  3. pastpeter says:

    I love your daylilies and pink astilbe! And of course your raspberries! I join you in remembering simpler days, in the garden as well as elsewhere. Back in the 70s we lived on 3 acres in MA and I had a local farmer plow 2000sf for a vegetable garden. I bought seeds from Burpees and simply set out rows with a little lime and 5-10-5 fertilizer. I hoed and watered and harvested an abundance that filled a chest freezer and fed us all winter long. Now it all seems complicated and difficult. Maybe it’s just me getting old..!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, I think it is complicated because it can’t just be you and I getting old. πŸ™‚ My grandparents did the same, filling two chest freezers and feeding them and all of us who visited for the following year. Now, it is a huge struggle to have a few fresh tomatoes. Something is amiss in our environment as is further evidenced by all the children today with food allergies. Glad you liked the flowers because I’m sure enjoying them. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Love your flowers. The only gardening I can do here in the summer is early in the morning and late in the afternoon. The rest of the day is too hot! I planted two cherry tomato plants this year and they are producing like crazy! I haven’t done anything special to them. They must be in just the right spot.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Murphy's Law says:

    Your flowers are gorgeous and those berries look good enough to eat! I agree, gardening used to be simpler. Weather and pesky bugs were the problem. Now it’s that and so much more. I’m just thinking out loud here, but could the container be the problem? Maybe leeching something into the soil? Hope you find an easy, inexpensive fix.
    πŸ”Ή Ginger πŸ”Ή

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m open to all thoughts. The larger container with the tomatoes we have actually used for several years so I don’t ‘think’ it is the container. The small container with the petrified berry plants was new. We’ve bought this loam/compost mix from them too many times to count and have never had an issue so I’m at a loss here. Here’s to hoping I can find a fix. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  6. quilt32 says:

    I’d like t have some of everything you picked up at McKenzie’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Laurie Graves says:

    Conditions in northern New England have changed a lot since our grandfathers’times. Heck, they have changed a lot since when I was young. Never do I remember heat at the beginning of July the like we had last week. Scary! So sorry about the container garden. Love the idea of an umbrella over lettuce. And any trip that involves donuts is a trip worth taking. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Joyce says:

    I can’t help you with your failure-to-thrive tank specimens, but I sincerely admire your robust harvest of tomatoes, berries, and lettuce!
    My grandma lived behind us and her backyard was a virtual paradise of fruit, flowers, and veggies. I know for a fact that all she did was plop seeds (often saved from previous year’s yield) and water them because I helped her do it. She bought very few plants from the farmer’s market, too, because she shared and traded clippings of everything with her friends. We ate everything straight from the plants without worries about pesticides or bugs. I agree with you that things are seriously amiss in our environment. Not complaining, but after years of mosquito spraying in our neighborhood, there is barely one who shows his nasty little face even without the service. They used to swarm mercilessly on our wooded lots around Memorial Day until the first early June spraying. Good for us, of course, but what about the birds and bats who eat them?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joyce, you make two very important points. First, we use to know exactly where our food came from. I heard at a MG seminar once, that when a baked potato hits your plate it or the soil it grew in had been sprayed 22 times. Now, that is a ghastly fact that is now part of our daily life. And, yes, we spray for one thing and kill four others. If I walk in the neighborhood around the corner on a day the folks who spray the lawn have been there, I see all the little white signs telling you to stay off the lawn. I wouldn’t need to see the sign because I can smell it a half a mile away. πŸ™‚

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  9. Almost Iowa says:

    Last year, I built planters as a birthday gift for my wife. Functionally not that much different than the tanks. She planted them in strawberries this year – with much the same result. Something there is about the weather this year that does not favor planters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing that. I hope her strawberries either pull out of it this year or resurrect for next year. I pulled the berries out, replaced half the soil in the tank with my compost bin, put landscape fabric on it, and it can sit there until next season. We’ll see if it is any better. This gardening is challenging. πŸ™‚

      Like

  10. Letting someone else do the hard work for a change is a nice idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oddment says:

    There would be no way of knowing, just by looking at your gorgeous blooms and berries, that you’ve had the slightest problem with weather or anything else. It all looks so healthy and summery. But soil that even marigolds disdain? Oh, dear. I hope some day that supplier will deign to answer your questions. Meanwhile, enjoy your improved gardening weather — long may it last!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Soil: the invisible determinant! Good on you for figuring that out. Hope it turns out well in the end.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Dawn says:

    I love all color in your garden this week, Judy! We have been having the same hot, sticky weather here in my Midwest garden. The Daylilies, Hydrangea, and Astilbe are the stars here this week. However, our main event is the mosquitoes! Oh my! They are so hungry all day long! Ugh! Hope you can solve the frustrating ‘mystery’ of your containers, Judy. It makes me smile to imagine the beach umbrella shading your lettuce.😊 Such a great idea! Sending sunny thoughts your way!πŸ’—

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good to hear from you because I was out working this morning, laughing to myself and thinking of you. I had these perennials that I just really don’t like so I dug them up all the while telling myself they aren’t my children. But, I couldn’t give them the heave ho so I went to the edge where the property goes into the woods and put them in the ground with all my daylilies and hosta that I’ve parked out there. I got them out of the beds but still couldn’t pitch them. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  14. tonytomeo says:

    With such warmth, the astilbes still look happy! We do not grow them much because they do not like the minimal humidity when it gets warm. It does not get very hot here for very long, but it is dry.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. slfinnell says:

    You’d love to hear the scoffing retorts I get from my mother when I ask if she’d like me to bring her some of my compost for her tomatoes.lol She’s ‘that’ generation who didn’t need to fix up the soil either and I’m very thankful for her influence. But this year My tomatoes are flourishing so…….

    Liked by 1 person

  16. debrapugh says:

    OH your raspberries πŸ™‚ When the boys were young we had red raspberry bushes behind the garage and an entire wild area to traipse through once crossing a creek and going up to a wild area for black raspberries ( now a Strip Mall 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  17. joey says:

    Hmph.
    Ain’t that a shame? Pity, pity.
    I think you’re right, it must be the soil 😦
    I tried to grow marigolds in Georgia. My across the street neighbor had them and they flourished. Mine grew leggy and sad. Some of them even burned in the bud. It was the first time I finally understood the concept of western sun. If you can’t fry it, don’t plant it in the western sun in your south Georgia yard. Here, I put the marigolds round the food seeds before I’ve even added enrichment. I reckon I could plop em anywhere here.
    As you know, my garden beds are “resting” this summer πŸ˜‰ I must admit, I will still add compost next year, but I don’t think I need to do more than that after a season off. Do you?
    Sure hope your berries give you a shock of sudden growth. My berries live in full sun and only God waters them — they’re established, so it works. I need a blueberry bush. Or two. But threes are better in a garden, aren’t they? Hehe!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Resting is always good and compost will certainly enhance the soil. I also put landscape fabric on my empty beds so I don’t grow weeds that I have to pull. (I don’t use plastic because that cooks and kills all the good stuff in the soil.) My raspberries are in full sun and God is the waterer as well. The blueberries produced like crazy for several years, and then we had to move them so they could get more sun. Let me tell you, blueberries don’t like to move. I’d probably be further along if I had just pitched them and bought new plants. But, they do have berries this year, and I want to eat every darn one of them. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • joey says:

        Oh good. I’m glad you think so.
        — I will seriously consider the placement of blueberries so they don’t have to be moved. My learning experience on what else doesn’t like to be moved? Goatsbeard, astilbe, bleeding hearts.
        I haven’t had good experiences with landscape fabric. I did that last year on the squash bed and it came loose and it was SO MUCH WORK, I felt all the futility.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I have decent luck with Astilbe ‘if’ I put them in the shade and water frequently. Otherwise, they are dead quickly. And, you are also right about the Goatsbeard and the bleeding hearts. Do these plants not know that gardeners move plants because it is never quite right? πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • joey says:

        LOL I KNOW! They don’t care!

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Norm 2.0 says:

    I’m with you in guessing it’s your soil in that planter. I’d be interested to find out what your results are like next year.
    Here our blueberries have not been productive this year but the raspberries are doing great and should start to ripen in another week or so.
    Tomatoes have gone bonkers this year. I have never before had a batch of plants that were this healthy looking. Good idea to prolong the lettuce – I’ll give that a try myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love all veggies, but I think lettuce is right up there at the top with tomatoes. We eat a lot of lettuce, and there is nothing better than just walking out and picking fresh, living lettuce. No plastic bag, no pesticides – just fresh. My umbrella is helping so far, and I’m eating as fast as I can. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Annie says:

    That’s a lot of soil to replace! Do you think getting the soil tested might give you some answers? If you discover anything new, please post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Testing would certainly give some relevant info. I did a ph test to see if it was by chance off the chart, but it wasn’t. I’ve shoveled so much this summer that I had half the small tank empty in no time. Then, I wanted to move my compost bin to a sunnier location so I emptied it and filled the tank back up with what had been sitting for a year. I covered it with landscape fabric, will leave it for a while, and then mix it all up and let it sit until next year. We’ll see how my plan works out. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  20. germac4 says:

    Your raspberries look wonderful…we very rarely get really good raspberries. As for growing food back in the day, my Dad had a garden full of vegetables all year long ..and only had chicken mature to help out! I think he would have flipped if he saw all the stuff we use.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. My daylilies are beginning to fade, but it’s fruit season in the valley. Garry and my digestion are trying to deal with the intensity of the roughage! Cherries and strawberries and now, peaches. Oh, and fresh corn at 5 for a dollar! I may not always love the weather but OH the glories of fresh food!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. KerryCan says:

    I think I got some of your bad soil! Many of my annuals look really bad this year, things I’ve used many times and had great success with–I can’t understand it. Your flowers, and berries, do look great, though–they seem to like this very hot weather that nearly killed us! And, of course, cider donuts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, I certainly did not mean to share bad soil with you. I had to pitch two pots of annuals yesterday that just gave up the ghost due to the heat. I’ll replant with perennials and then put them back in the ground this fall. I have to fertilize annuals to even keep them moderately happy with this weather we’ve been having. My geraniums love the heat, but the others not so much. πŸ™‚

      Like

  23. Ally Bean says:

    Your planting beds/tanks are inspiring. I’ve not seen anything like them around here, but will keep them in mind should we ever move to flatter land. I wonder, too, about how my farmer ancestors made a go of it, trusting in themselves and providence, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Eliza Waters says:

    What a mystery with the tank’s soil. I wonder about the same. I got a bad bag of potting soil as my seedlings were abysmal this spring. Once I put the straggly things in the ground they took off. With the rampant use of RoundUp and its pervasive nature, I wonder if compost is being compromised in some way. It is a mystery!
    Your daylilies and raspberries look wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never had this happen before, but there is definitely something off. I’m picking at least a pint of raspberries every day. The freezer is filling up. πŸ™‚ A friend in a neighboring town bought horse manure from a local farmer and wound up with invasive crazy snake worms that are driving her crazy. It’s dangerous out here. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Tina Schell says:

    Glad u gave yourself a well-deserved break Judy! Sorry about the soil, that stinks!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Those raspberries look fabulous.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. The rest of your garden looks beautiful! The berries look delicious, and I’ll have all of what you’re having this week-end. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Libby Keane says:

    Did you test & adjust if necessary the Ph of the new soil? I live in NH too & we have acidic soil & water. Ph adjustments work wonders.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. I can relate to your words, I just came in from the garden, drenched in sweat. I could go for a cider donut right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. pbodwell says:

    Cider donuts?? That sounds pretty good. I”ll have to look that up. Never heard of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pbodwell says:

      Also, we had massive hail here. It usually goes around where I am but boy did we get it about three weeks ago. Car totaled, need new roofs and sheds and a stroke of good luck, I get a new roof for my greenhouse I’m refurbishing!! My poor gardens were lovely and now are all a shredded mess. Still can’t tell a weed from a plant so I’ll just have to wait a little longer to clean everything up. I had a lovely trough full of CSU trial plants I got for helping with the trial this year and it was so beautiful and now so sad. The good news is the new dahlias were very sturdy and they are blooming again already.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, I think ‘massive’ is the right adjective to describe all that damage. I have a visual from your description, and that is a lot of damage to property you have put a lot of extremely hard work into. Here’s hoping your insurance helps out, and your dahlias keep blooming. πŸ™‚

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  31. Robin says:

    I love the tank containers!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Joanne Sisco says:

    The big tub gardens are such a great idea and I’m watching with interest how they turn out. They may be the answer to my gardening issues. The problems with the one tub is quite the mystery. I would have assumed it was me and my lack of gardening skill, but obviously that’s not your issue! It’s unfortunate that the company didn’t have the curtesy of replying … even if just to say they are baffled too, or will look into it.

    Liked by 1 person

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