Week 17 – Vegetable Gardening in the Heat

Rob and his neighbors have planted a community garden in the alley behind his house.  The alley was full of rocks and tires, junk and lots of other unpleasant urban debris.  They decided to get together and use the space for a shared garden.

Rob’s neighbor Jessica joined us today and told us how much clean up they had to do before they could plant the garden.  They’ve planted several different varieties of tomatoes, squash, peppers,  eggplant and strawberries.  They’ve also planted companion plants of basil and marigolds to keep the bad bugs out.  Amazingly in the alley there are no bugs in the gardens and nothing chewing on the leaves of any of the plants.




Apprentice Larry, who we fondly call Farmer Larry since he used to do some farming up around Ft Collins with CSU talked about how during this heat, tomatoes and corn can be in danger because in this summer heat, especially above 95 degrees the pollen can die here in Colorado.  It is so dry and hot right now.

I talked about how to beat the heat and remedy the pollen situation by using some Bloom Set, a product you can get at your local garden center; and also by using a mister (that I thought was to keep us humans cool) to help keep your plants cooler.

I learned today that each kernel of corn on a cob needs one thread of silk pollinated to produce a kernel, something like a couple of thousand pieces of pollen per ear.  Also, some plants need at least 9 bees to pollinate it or it won’t get fruit.  Even more reason to remember to help keep the bees safe by not using any products that will kill them.  There’s a lot going on out there in the garden besides watering and growing.

Misael and Julie were watering the waffle style garden.  If you use the waffle garden that we’ve discussed a couple of times on my blog you can flood it like a rice patty and just water about every 3 days.  Also, if it rains it helps keep the water inside the walls and on the plants where it’s needed.  A waffle garden is a square surrounded by a wall of dirt with the plants inside the square and when watered the dirt walls hold in the water.  The alley gardens are all waffle gardens.

Generally in Colorado we have the best weather for growing produce.  We have not too hot days and cool nights which helps draw up the sugar into the plant to produce nice sweet fruits and vegetables.  We do love our Palisade peaches and Olathe corn here in Colorado; and also our Rocky Ford Cantaloupe. Oh, and we can’t forget our Montmorency pie and Bing cherries.  We have great local produce including some of the best organic produce I’ve eaten.  Right now it is a touch hot with temperatures over 95 and 100 several days in a row but our nights have been cool enough that most plants are producing.   We’re hoping with the listeria breakout last year that we’ve all learned a good lesson about washing everything we eat to prevent getting sick.  It’s so tempting to pick up the fruit and pop it in our mouths but lots of measures have been taken to make sure produce is clean with some farms installing washing stations, which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.  That’s great, but let’s all take responsibility by washing our produce and take that extra step and wash before you bite.

So, if you have plants that are producing blooms and not much fruit in this heat, get to your local garden center and get some bloom set to set your blooms so they can produce fruit.  Or pick up a mister and give it a try, or if it’s really hot use it on yourself!!

So far, so fun!!

For more hints on vegetable gardening in the heat check out this weeks segment at http://www.9news.com/rss/story.aspx?storyid=278573


About pbodwell

Master Gardener; Nat'l Award Winning Photographer; Garden Writer; Artist - art books, print maker, hot glass, wire jewelry designer; sometime quilter; new homesteader; bee keeper; very crafty; Baseball fan, enthusiast, and researcher; all things vintage
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