Tuesday, August 3, 2010
OPPRESSIVE HEAT WAVE SENDS URBAN FARM INTO BURNING TAILSPIN
HELLO & welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! NEWSFLASH: Massive heat wave blankets the Mid-South like a turkey roasting under aluminum foil for Thanksgiving dinner. MAN...is it ever hot and miserable. I have continued to do my lawn maintenance daily here and at the Jackson Community Garden Site #4 where I work as the Master Gardener coordinator for that site. The heat is really bad but after being in it daily for months now I realize how built up to a tolerance of it I am. So as bad as it is, I stay hydrated by keeping 32oz bottles of frozen water handy, melting slowly for continued cooling water. I take several of these with me daily on my gardening duties around town and that is really a good idea for those of you out in this heat a lot. I take sports drink bottle and wash out and then fill with water and freeze every day and then take them out as needed or on the go, etc.
I am also keeping a box fan on the pullets at the interior wire door of the chicken coop. They are also getting fresh, cooling water daily. Those girls are really growing now and both combs and wattles are showing well and some starting to go red, meaning laying COULD start any day now on some of the early maturing birds. I so look forward to the first little pullet eggs. A good friend says I should take the first one and blow it out, clean it good and then put it in a shadow box frame and hang in the kitchen. I might just do that very thing! But the continue to eat a good, healthy diet of grass clippings, rinds, kitchen scraps and garden discards. They are particularly fond of damaged tomatoes or split ones I cannot use.
I have pulled up all the squash plants from the vegetable garden as the squash bugs completely decimated the main stems and thus the plants have died off. Not to mention again this heat wave. The tomatoes are also suffering as the heat I fear is causing them to burst and rot in place on the stems. I do not see how they are taking this 98, 99, 100+ temperatures like they have been. I have not been over watering so I know the splits are not from too much water as last summer with our cooler, wet year we had. So not much of a harvest has taken place this year compared to years past. I froze many-many gallon bags of tomato sauce/soup mix last year along with giving away many pounds almost daily as well as eating my fill at will. NOT THIS YEAR. I have not had near enough red balls of delicious acid nectar. My pullets have eaten more bad ones than I have any good ones. I could eat one now if I could find one decent enough to slice, salt and pepper and then tell you how great it is/was! But not in this climate this year. I might could find one or two for today. But it might be a little on the green side. I think I might have to start harvesting early, before they reach full ripeness to stop the sudden splitting upon that moment when they reach their peak. That might work and I will let you know in a day or two how that plan works out.
I continue work at the Jackson Community Garden Site #4 here in Jackson. I would like to report that as of last week that site has donated some 80-lbs of squash (plus some tomatoes form my home garden) to RIFA, our local soup kitchen. I am proud of that and the fact I have my only real gardener who is enjoying so much watching her very first garden give her fresh vegetables as well as her enjoying the flowers I added to her plot. I feel good that basically alone I took 2-vacant lots, donated to the JCG project by the First United Methodist Church of Jackson, and have turned it into a good space for gardening that is both productive, enhances the community and teaches others how to garden. That is the premise of what being a Master Gardener is all about and what I went through all the course training and study for and to boost up what I already knew. KUDOS to the UT Extension Service & the Madison County Master Gardeners and to all those who taught and directed the course for Fall 2009. I will graduate in February 2011 and should have over 150-volunteer hours to put me in good standing with my fellow graduating interns.
One more thing to share with you who have been with me for some time during last fall when I was doing some rehab on the old garden home. I have replace my old, solid wood back door that was sagging on the hinges and difficult to both open and close. I put in a new 15-pane steel door like I did on the front last fall. I also found the very same door handle set on sale at Home Depot and added that to make the front and back match, even though the set was a little over kill but with the back door being in the master bedroom, I wanted it to be a little nicer. I have really enjoyed having it in even for this one week alone. I no longer have to pick up on the door to open and close it and it closes with one finger really and the lock works for a nice change as well.
I will leave you then today with our ongoing gardening affirmation in mind: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"