Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Extreme heat

Each fall, into winter and on into springtime, I find myself musing about how pleasant the weather is in Houston. Sure, it gets a bit "hot" in the summertime, but it rarely snows; there never has been a blizzard. A little heat is the price you pay for eight or nine nice, shorts-if-you-wanna months.

It's easy to forget how "a little heat" can melt your clothes onto your
body. Ok, true, I've never felt the heat in Iraq, but I've been to Palm Springs, California. Just be glad you don't get 125% humidity.

And then, June, July and August roll around again, and usually into September, the heat becomes intense, extreme, insane. Maybe I'm getting older and more susceptible to really hot weather; maybe global warming is kicking in and the summers are getting even nastier. I don't know exactly.

But this year has been a motherfucker. One for the record books. A year for the ages. I mean, knock your ass down and stomp on your lungs hot. We've had heat indexes over 110 many days, and we still have several more weeks of "summer" to go. Heat indexes over 100 has been a given since early June.

And dry. Dry. DRY.
Lately, finally, it has actually rained two days in a row! I find myself just sitting on the rooftop deck and staring at the sunset.

And I don't even feel guilty about it. (As usual, you can click on the pics to make them bigger)
Naturally, in the gardening world, in the summertime we look for plants that can tolerate the heat. Which is one reason we planted New Zealand Spinach. Most spinach requires cool weather to perform optimally, but New Zealand Spinach, while not actually spinach, is supposed to soak up the heat.

Here's a pic from the web:

That's what it's "supposed" to look like.

The "book" says that New Zealand Spinach reaches harvest between 50-70 days from planting. Today, 8/13/09, is 74 days from planting. And, while it sprouted rather quickly about 64 days ago, it just lay there and looked dead for the longest time. Now, finally, even though the growth is almost microscopic, we are actually seeing life from three of the four seeds we planted.

We are such amateurs.

Both plants are no more than 3" high. Quite a long way from "harvest," I think.

Is it the heat that stunted them? Too much water? Hell if I know, but they're actually growing now.

Same thing with the Swiss Chard. It seemed lazy and practically dead for the longest time, but in the latest heatwave, it perked up pretty good. Go figure.

Flowers is are a category we have little trouble with. On the roof. On the street. Inside the house.

For the first time, though, we have two different plumeria flowers blooming. The red one is a rubra, aka Red Frangipani.

And the other one is probably an "Alba" but I just call it "Heaven" because of the smell-o-gasm it radiates.

The "Teddy Bear" sunflowers are in bloom, and the color is very nice. They form a large clump of rather angry-looking blooms. No smell, just candy for the eye.

We've had some luck with the Plum Granny melon (Cucumis melo)
. In the olden times, wayyyy back olden times, people used to grow this small melon and carry it around with them to ward off their bodily stench. They weren't much into hygiene, apparently, but they still wanted to smell good. I guess. Poor things.

I don't have a picture of the mature melon. Thought I did, but can't find it. It turns yellow when ripe, and exudes the most wonderful bubble-gum smell I've ever eaten with my nose. The taste was rather blah and almost bitter, as expected, but the smell was quite unique. Two other fruits are starting to turn yellow now.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.
(And you can smell my melons.)

Next time, however poetic, I think we'll grow a melon that TASTES good!

Speaking of smelling good, and tasting good, the cinnamon basil will make your olfactory and salivary fleshy bits go into overdrive. A sharp, pungent smell of cinnamon puts a grin on my face. As does the carrier of the basil...

Presentation of the basil...

Alas, the end came for our two most-productive tomato plants, the Rutgers and Better Bush. They valiantly tried to continue to produce flowers, but it was just too hot...or something...and we put them out of their misery recently. This years bumper crop will go down as probably one of our most successful in the tomato world. They were unbelieveably good. Here's one of the smaller ones, for old times sake.

The three new plants ain't lookin' too hot. Or maybe they ARE lookin' too hot. I gots work to do...

As you were....

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