Re: [gardeners] Withering heat

George Shirley (
Fri, 15 Sep 2000 12:41:18 -0500

Finally has cooled down a few degrees here Ron. We've actually gotten a couple
of inches of rain in the last week and it looks like rain out right now.

My Ponderosa lemons are starting to turn yellow and our Fuyu persimmon is still
to young to bear but has grown at least a foot this year. We're anxiously
awaiting that time as we both like the Fuyu quite well.

Our tomatoes gave up the ghost long ago to the heat as did the beans and peas.
The okra is still going along as are the chiles, hot and sweet. About time for
me to till and plant the fall garden so will probably do that this weekend if we
don't get too much rain. Have a huge pile of compost to spread on the garden
along with several buckets of aged horse manure mixed with rice hulls. Since I
only till every other year this should bring some grubs, etc. to the surface for
the birds to eat. The mockers hang around when I till and then really work the
surface over when I'm done.

Will probably just go to the nursery and get some fall tomato and cuke plants
rather than start some. We usually get several broccoli and cabbage plants at
the same time.

Your fruit trees sound great, hopefully mine will start to bear next year and I
am feeding, spraying, and pruning toward that end.


Ron Hay wrote:
> Good morning, friends,
> Our hottest part of the year has begun in earnest. On Monday of this
> week, it was 109 outside my office in Sherman Oaks. It was almost
> bearable without the humidity; but with the breakup of tropical storm
> Lane, the humidity has been with us in spates, at least by SoCal
> standards, turning everyone into sticky, sweaty messes. It's so much fun
> to preview and show property in this weather:(
> Not much yard work is getting done, since it is that curious time of
> year here when the days grow shorter and shorter, but the temperature
> stays high, meaning that despite shorter days, things still need to be
> cared for and watered, which is a neat trick to do before heading out to
> work. I do what I can and hope for the best until the next day.
> Our limes are ripening apace, and the first ripe one fell this week. The
> Fuyu persimmons are growing larger and darkening, indicating to us that
> netting time is upon us.
> Our three pomegranates are ripening, as well, while the tree burgeons.
> It seems to have picked up thrips, which have caused the new growth to
> curl. I try to spray, but it is hard to chose what small task to
> undertake after breakfast and before I head out the door. Watering seems
> even more important, since the pomegranate is flourishing, while other
> more water-intensive plants would perish in our withering blast.
> Our Amish Paste, Mortgage Lifters and Omar's Lebanese will be taken out
> this weekend, a major disappointment in our garden this summer. AP and
> ML were bred for cooler, moister climes, I suspect, while the problem
> with OL is that it did not get enough light, since the house was vacant
> next door for months and the shrubbery grew rank along our wall.
> We have lost two serrano plants to some sort of sucking insect which is
> harbored on the rank Eugenia berry hedges next door, which have grown to
> an incredible 20+ feet, totally uncared for. I fear to use too many
> pesticides other than insecticidal soap, which, in this case, clearly
> did not do the trick. But the two remaining serranos have jumped into
> the breach and produced at least 300 chiles so far, all nicely
> dehydrated and put away in a giant jar, while the plants keep on
> trucking.
> As do the artichokes. We are getting ready for round 6 on our two
> original artichokes this year. I picked the last 3 last week, which sent
> the plants into growth spasms from their roots. Won't be long before we
> have crop numbre 7!
> And our blueberry bushes! They have doubled in size this year, having
> just been put in the ground in May. I can hardly wait to see the bounty
> they will produce next year.
> Our new butterfly bushes in the front yard are beginning to grow like
> topsy. We planted a yellow one and a purple one, interspersed by Mexican
> sage. All of them are starting to grow amazingly fast in this heat. They
> must be taking the clue from Mac, our Macadamia tree, which has tripled
> its leaf area this summer. Seems he is a good influence on the new tea
> tree (melaleuca alternifolia), his new antipodean buddy on the other
> side of the lawn.
> Tea tree oil is something we are just finding out about. It is literally
> a medicince kit in a bottle. Vivian has suffered from psoriatic patches
> on her elbows for years, and it seems like the oil, which we purchase at
> one of our numerous health food stores, is turning the tide. It has so
> many wonderful uses! It will be fun to have a mature shrub in our yard
> from which we can utilize the clippings by distilling the oil,
> ourselves:)
> The two types of plants in the front yard that have not done all that
> well in this heat are the roses and the wisteria.
> Wisterias are supposed to be pest and disease free, per Sunset's
> _Western Garden Book._ Au contraire: it has been a constant battle to
> keep some sort of noxious beetle from feasting on it. This pest has
> curtailed its growth markedly, despite numerous sprayings with
> insecticidal soap.
> The roses are the other ones suffering. I have been using Vigaro Rose
> Food, which is just plain wonderful. The roses have grown up to my eye
> level this season ( I am 6') and have produced prodigious numbers of
> blooms all summer, most of which have gotten fried by our excessive
> heat, with the end result that I have to cull many of them before they
> are fully opened.
> It's a delicate balancing act with roses: too little water and they
> become drought stressed; too much and they develop mildew. I can't wait
> for October and November to get here so that we can truly enjoy them
> again, just before cutting them back.
> This year has seen a couple of failures (too much water killed our
> purple hibiscus), but on balance, everything else is doing wonderfully
> well, and is a joy for us. I guess every year is a little different, and
> that is what makes gardening such a wonderful challenge, along with the
> relaxation it brings after time spent nurturing our charges.
> One last observation: Last fall, I broke off a branch of Mexican sage
> while harvesting some limes nearby. I stuck it in a glass on our window
> sill, and to our amazement, grew a forest of roots. There it remained,
> out of sheer inertia, until the spring, when we planted it, unsure of
> whether or not it could survive out of water. Well, this week it has its
> first blossom and branches are coming out from every leaf axil, as well
> as from the roots. It has obviously been cheered on by its little
> buddies next to the butterfly bushes, 20 feet away:)
> Now that I have cooled down after my shower, it's time to get dressed,
> and to attempt to turn this moth into a butterfly for the benefit of my
> clients:)
> Have a wonderful day and a fabulous weekend.
> Ron
> Van Nuys, CA