Saturday, May 21, 2011

Summer heat on the way! Tropical Concerns, and Garden tips.

For a while I wondered if the alignment of convection in the tropics called the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) was going to override the coming of 90 degree+ heat to our region.  It has decided to die out instead of progress through the cool phases!  Therefore here comes summer heat!

The good news is that I expect the worst heat of the whole summer during the next few weeks.  On a bad note:  with the coming of a more moderate to even cool at times regime will come serious hurricane threats to the SE US and eventually even to New England.   Please read a TERRIFIC summary of what to expect this hurricane season by Greg Nordstrom.   Greg is an Instructor or Meteorology at Mississippi State University.

As the heat moves in your gardens will need to be tended in a way that minimizes the stress to your plants.  Here are some guidelines:
  • Water lettuce, salad greens, and anything else every day.  Pick those crops ASAP because time is up!  Eat your salads and give away what you cannot use.
  • It never helps a plant to flood it with water.  Limit watering to 2-4 cups per tomato, pepper, or other summer plant every other day that it does not rain. Water directly to the base of the plants.  Do not water weeds.
  • Zucchini, Squash, Pumpkins, and Cucumbers will wilt some in the afternoon heat.  It is normal.  If the plants fail to recover by 5 PM then give them 2 cups of water to the roots.  Begin to inspect your squash, zucchini, and pumpkins for squash bugs.  Remove the ones that you find and either squash them (phew!!!) or drop them and any eggs you scrape off into soapy water.
  • Mulch summer plants with grass clippings, ground leaves, or other organic matter to maintain moisture.  
  • If your soil is drying out to quickly then gently mix in some compost but do not disturb the roots.  Compost adds spongy matter called humus which will absorb more water.
  • Please avoid spraying tomato vines with water.  It increases the chance of disease
Have no fear that this summer will repeat last years inferno.  It is expected that the heat will come early.  Most of summer will be quite nice!

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