New rose buds surmounting old bloom fried in 113-degree heat
Plumeria love the heat! and the fragrance!
Begonias love the warmth, but barely any direct sun
Apple's new growth amongst 113-degree fried leaves
Squash reseeding every month or so provides continuous harvest of tender young fruits
Amarcrinum blooms surmount dessicated leaves from a month ago
The asclepias commongly available
California native Asclepias fascicularis
Cestrum attracts hummers
Figs had no problem with that 113-degree heat
My Pasadena garden has been enduring 95-degree temperatures ever since that 113 monster pair of days at the beginning of July. Talk about Spring morphing directly into Summer! I really don’t want to even go out of doors, much less do any real work in the garden. Since many of my plants and portions of fruit trees sustained foliage damage from that onslaught, I’ve been very careful to 1) cover tender plants, 2) not prune, 3) not fertilize, and 4) not overwater. Here’s why:
Cover tender plants with shadecloth or other protection, especially during the afternoon hours when the direct sun is at its most intense. Give new growth a chance to emerge without being attacked by the sun/heat.
Don’t prune plants, even of the messy-looking burnt-to-a-crisp foliage because it will protect inner growth by shading it from more intense direct sun. Besides, you won’t really know what’s truly killed for another month or so.
Don’t fertilize. Let plants recuperate from the heat attack before forcing them to grow excessive new growth because you’ve fed the plants. Let them grow as they can manage on their own.
Don’t overwater. Plants will naturally droop at the end of the hot day, but they may not need more water in the soil and will perk up again overnight.
Check Soil Moisture Before Watering Despite how limp plants look at the end of the day, the foliage may just be suffering from the daily evaporation forced by the heat and sun. Especially since the 113-days, I want to make sure that my established fruit trees and plants are sufficiently moist – or not – before I automatically pour on more water. My discomfort in the heat makes me assume that the plants need water, but I may in fact be drowning them if I water more! Every day after about 6pm, after the sun has gone behind the hill I live on – luckily I’m in the northeast-facing slope – I trek up to the garden and plunge my moisture meter ($10 at Orchard Supply Hardware) into the soil around each tree and plant just to make sure which needs water and which doesn’t. As it turns out, because of all the organic matter I’ve laid on as mulch and has decomposed over all these years, even in this heat the plants need deep watering only about once a week. Which is why it’s important for me to not give in to my anxiety and water too much! To get an accurate picture of how extensively each root system is satisfactorily moist – or not – I insert the 6-inch-long prong in 5 or 6 spots about 12-18 inches from the tree trunk or plant stem. I push the meter down to its hilt so its sensitive point reaches 6 inches down into the soil. The meter has 4 numbered gradients between number 1=dry and number 4=wet. The desired reading is about number 2, which translates into what I call “damp” – that is, the soil particles are moist but the air pores between them are open so roots can absorb the amount of moisture and nutrition they need but can also “breathe” and grow between the soil particles. Drier means some roots will die by dehydration, and wetter means that some roots will die by drowning. Your soil and your specific plants will determine their own most-desired gradient.
Recuperation I’ve been relieved – truly thrilled – to see new foliage growing on fruit trees, tomatoes, roses and perennials; and new blossoms and fruit setting on tomatoes and squash, as well as resuming harvests of tomatoes and squash.
Which Repeat Crops I Don’t Grow During This Intense Heat Several years ago, maybe the third year of the drought, I quit growing my June successive plantings of tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans. I just didn’t wat to spend the money for the water required to nurture those plants to grow, set flowers, and mature fruit during what was becoming long-lasting extreme heat. So, now I rely only on my tomatoes with a wide range of maturity dates planted in the Spring, and reseeding my yellow crookneck squash, since those just-picked freshness and flavors just can’t be found even at farmers’ markets. It feels very strange to buy cukes and beans instead of growing them through the Summer, but my experiences with few and bitter cukes and minimal bean harvests – all due to scant water – make my decision for me. And, I probably end up spending less money purchasing them when I want them. But, I do want my tomatoes and yellow crookneck squash always available – and they produce so much – that they’re worth the watering investment. While I just keep the tomatoes watered well, and fed them when they first set blossoms prior to the 113-days, I reseed the yellow crookneck squash every month or so. When the first batch begins setting fruit, I seed the second batch. This results in a continuous harvesting of tender, baby-sized squash because the second batch will begin setting when the first batch is finishing. I’ll repeat this reseeding twice or three times more – until either the Fall cold will stop production or I’ll be thoroughly sick of squash! And I’ll never have to deal with squash “logs” to make into ratatouille or bread to foist upon my neighbors!