First 90

Yes, Texas, at least central Texas has finally had its first 90 degree day. We had it just the other day. Even the news mentioned it’s about 10-14 days early from our normal first 90 degree day. Earlier and earlier. Anyone who doesn’t believe weather is changing, yes even those that think this is normal, may want to actually look at what is happening, not what we think if happening.

I say this because we have to actually look at the weather that is outside our door as opposed to what history says should be happening. Since its not yet the middle of April, and we’ve hit 90 degrees already, no matter what the planning guides say, we need to start being aware of heat.

Last year we had 40+ triple digit days, days where we hit or passed 100 degrees. That may not seem that bad, but remember that here in Texas, especially this area, the days are hot, but so are our nights. So where we may have 100 degree days, the nights may only get down to 80 degrees or there about. So 100 degree day is not usually followed by a cool night of say 60-70. And with that kind of heat we also frequently get very humid. We may not get rain, but we get humidity.

This combination means mold, of a variety of types, which can be problems for plants.

If we have already begun 90 degree days, we need to consider not only the heat, but any humidity we get. Some of the weather station even show with the temperature expected a “muggy meter”. It may sound cute, but it is something we need to consider here in this area.

For our upcoming week, we will have something of a cooling of the weather. Starting Tuesday (today is Sunday) we will drop about 10 degrees to the mid to upper 70’s and begin getting a chance of run. The current forecast says we could expect upwards of 3/4 to 1.25 inches of rain. We could use the rain.

Beginning soon I may begin a gardening journal on this website. Where this year has already been interesting weather, it was just a couple of months ago that we had snow, and now we have 90 degree weather, I had begun noticing “surprise” plants in my garden. I call them surprise plants since I had not yet planted anything in those areas. I would have thought that the snow would have killed off some of the seeds left over from last year. But since I now have seeds coming up, I can only guess that they are left over seeds from last year.

Here comes the heat

Yes, it wasn’t that long ago we were worried about our cold weather. This week, starting Wednesday April 7 we are due to hit 90 degrees. And we will spend 3 days at 90 degrees. According to the weather station I listen to, that is a week early on average for this area.

So welcome to the heat of Texas.

In anticipation of the summer temperatures here, I just had a pergola/deck cover installed over my outside deck. It looks like it showed up just in time. They are still working on the pergola, they delivered the wood and stained in on Thursday last week. They didn’t work Friday as it was Good Friday. But today they put it up, with just a bit of work to still do.

I am having a product called Polygal put on. We’ll see how I like it. I’m not quite sure how to describe it since I haven’t yet seen it. I’ll let you know what it is, and what I think of it once it gets installed.

Sigh of relief.

Hurricane Marco was a bust. It didn’t do anything here. And Laura, which is currently still ongoing, make landfall at a category 4, and 12+ hours later is still a category 1. But it did not even give Austin any rain.

We are lucky, the storm did not make landfall in Texas, it landed in Louisiana, so we did not get that much damage. But make no mistake, Louisiana has taken a hard hit. Laura is a powerful storm, but at this point it is still a bit early to know the entire extent of the damage.

The storm is heading its way up to Arkansas, then over to the Memphis area, across Kentucky, then out to the coast, and up the coast line. How this storm is managing this I do not know.

As for Austin, we are back to hot. The weather forecast includes high 90’s to low 100’s again. How long this heat wave will last is definitely up for debate. Next week is the start of September and the highs are still in the 90’s. At this point I’m not sure what normal temperatures would be. But we are just plain hot.

Shade cloth

In honor of all this heat, I decided to attempt using a shade cloth over part of the garden. Since the garden is so close to the back fence, the shade cloth is attached to the fence using bungee cords. The shade cloth has grommets around the edges, so I have grommets impaled onto the 6 foot tall bamboo sticks to help keep it over the garden. Not the most elegant solution, but one that works for the time being. Since I’m not sure how long I will keep the shade cloth up, and I need an easy way to take it down if needed, this works. I consider this part of the learning process of a garden.

Hopefully this works and my fall seeds will sprout and be happy.

Still hot

Well, our triple digit days are still with us. Though last night we got a sudden downpour of rain about 3AM. It didn’t amount to much in terms of inches, less than 1/2 an inch of rain, but at least we got something.

But as for daily temperature, its still hot. We’ve been beating or matching heat records the past few days, and those have been triple digit days.

The rain has been helpful in cooling us off. If you can call it that. We will “cool down” today to about 95-99, depending on which weather site you look at. Its late morning as I write this, 11 AM and its already 87, so its not exactly cool. And of course it will heat up as the day goes on.

Some plants are going down hill. This heat has been too much and it is taking its toll. But that’s okay, its time to start thinking about the fall garden.

Triple Digits

Yes, this is central Texas weather. We are back into triple digits. Its hot, no other word for it. HOT!

But we’ve also had a few clouds pop up. So we have days of hot triple digits, a quick drop in temperature, quick wind, a fast downpour (or maybe just a sprinkle), then the heat comes right back. How’s that for fun.

What it does mean for my garden is everything is in a holding pattern. I’m just trying to keep things alive. In 100 degree heat not much actually grows, nor do a lot of plants or veggies ripen. On the other hand my cucumbers are going gang busters. I have to check that plant daily! Go figure!

I have recently joined a Facebook group for Texas Central Gardeners. I figured since I can’t easily go out and talk to people, this would be a good option. On someone’s recommendation I have ordered a set of SVB traps (that’s squash vine borer SVB traps). I’m not sure how long it will take for them to arrive, but we’ll find out if they work. I actually have a set of squash plants still growing, so maybe they’ll show up in time and I can tell you how they worked.

On a different not, please please please, when you plant something try to label it in a manner that makes sense. For instance, I have used some of those white plastic in the ground sticks you write on. With the harsh sun here all the writing has disappeared. I used a sharpie, but not help, the writing is gone.

Another issue I’ve had with labeling plants, is I had a helper putting in my labels. Well, I had a plant labeled as watermelon. It sure looks like a butternut squash to me! Try to make sure you label seeds or plants correctly, and in a way that is still readable after rain or harsh sun.

Heat spell

Central Texas has been in the midst of a heat spell. We’ve had triple digit days (100+), record breaking heat, with heat indexes hitting 110+. Just plain hot!

So what does that mean for your garden? Just try to keep things alive. That’s really the best you can do. Don’t worry about what doesn’t look like its growing, just keep the poor plants alive. That’s all you can do. That’s the most important thing.

Now I’ve lost a few plants. My thyme plant doesn’t look like it has survived the heat. And I think my mint may have bitten the dust. That happens. But I have small plants of both that I can transplant and grow. That’s the nice thing about taking cuttings and making new plants.

Now for how the garden is doing. I put in a drip water system. Its not elegant, but so far it is working. That’s what matters. I do need to make some refinements. I’m noticing some plants don’t appear to be getting enough water.

Right now the drip water runs three days a week, two times a day (morning and evening), for 5 minutes each time (total of 10 minutes a day). So its not running a lot, but don’t forget, my main sprinklers also run 2 days a week. What I have been looking at is the water pattern. I am using sprinklers that water in a 180 or 360 degree pattern, not little bubblers that water an individual plant. So I have to actually look to see where the water hits. Now yes, I may need to change to bubblers, but that is part of the learning process.

Another interesting learning opportunity has been the seed. You might remember I went through my seed and got rid of old seed. I had some seed that had never been opened, they were company packaged in foil packets. Well I put some of that old, unopened seed in the beds. Guess, what, most all of it is sprouting. Some seemed to sprout overnight. I’m sure getting heat and water helped the quick sprout.

But that’s part of the learning process of gardening. If something isn’t working, its your job to be the sleuth and figure out what may be going wrong. If it sunlight, heat, water, just the wrong plant, old seed – you have to figure it out. But I’m happy to say we seem to be on the right track again. Things are growing well, and that’s what matters.

Happy gardening!