Sunday, July 5, 2009

Gardening at over 100 -- Degrees, that is

I planted a garden this year with little regard to practicality. I planted vegetables that I wanted to eat including artichokes and eggplant. Of course, I have tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and okra. I did not do a lot of homework. I had gardens in the past and usually had fairly good success. I should have been more deliberate and studious.

I planted artichoke seeds late last year. Some plants came up and did fine through the winter. I did not have a freeze this year. Growing up, it always froze in the winter, usually several times, but in the last ten years freezes have become rare.

Anyway, the artichokes grew rapidly, and I soon discovered I had planted them too close together. I transplanted as many as I dared, trying to space them far apart. Most of the transplants made it, even the one I put in the midst of the parsnips.

All was well until the temperatures climbed above 100 degrees Fahrenheit and stayed there day after day. Despite my watering, my artichokes began to dry up. Soon, the plants were infested with black aphids. I don't use pesticides. A Ph.D. in chemistry makes me too knowlegable about the dangers of poisons whether man-made or natural. I washed the aphids off: they returned. I tried soap and water and washed some more. The soap and water was successful. The aphid numbers were greatly reduced, but the artichokes continued to decline.

I went online to research artichokes. Okay, a little late, but at least, I was trying. Artichokes don't like high temperatures. In high heat conditions, they go dormant. We had record breaking high temperatures (as high as 106) day after day. My artichokes were definitely unhappy - their leaves curled and the whole plant lost color.

So, I must wait. Either my artichokes have gone dormant (I hope) or they have died. All I can do is wait for cooler temperatures to find out. Whatever the outcome, next year I plant in partial shade.

Photo by flickring

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