Summer Fun In The Garden

In Texas we’re in our miserable part of summer. Our heat index is fluctuating between 101 and 103 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s nasty in the high heat part of the day. It’s also still in the high 80s at midnight and later. It’s too hot for a lot of things, (like tomatoes) so we’re getting through the blazing summer and once it starts to cool again I’ll get my fall plants in.These feel like temperatures are no fun, but our actual temperature is still in the upper 90s. I do go out and work in this sort of heat. It’s why my husband says that I’m “Thor in the garden”. 😂

We are also about a 3 hour drive from the gulf of Mexico so humidity is a constant. In this part of Texas we get very little summer rain. We’ve had an unusually mild year though and my garden is very happy!

I still have to spray for aphids and powdery mildew but for the most part it’s watering (which I recently bought a 4 valve watering timer so I am not forced to go outside and water manually) and picking fruit and vegetables. I have managed to keep the squirrels and rats/mice/oppossums/raccoons out of the majority of my garden. Although I did lose 100’s of pears to squirrels.

I’ve had a great year for most everything I planted. My pomegranate tree is pumping out pomegranates. I have two persimmon trees. I really, really like the nonastringent fuyu I bought but I believe I will be removing the astringent one as I don’t care for the fruit and the tree is sick. (I highly recommend growing nonastringent persimmons if you are a typical American. The astringent one I have is like a water balloon full of sweet slime and tastes like an off-pumpkin when cooked. I don’t recommend any of the astringent persimmons for that reason.)

We will also be removing a peach. It’s doing what peaches do: finding a reason to die. It’s got too high a chill hour and won’t set fruit. It was a gift from my non-gardening husband. The few fruit I’ve seen were soon squirrel food. That was 7 years wasted on a poor preforming tree. I may replace it with a fig because they just grow so easily here, and boy, figs are fruit from the Gods when they’re ripe! My blackberries were babied this year but they are still struggling. I have an arbequina olive tree that is getting close to the age of bearing. Two fig trees and two 6×12 foot raised beds with a hugelkulter/keyhole center.Yep. Those are bananas. I have a dwarf Cavendish and the tall one is a gros Michel. If anyone has had any luck with getting these bananas to fruit around San Antonio let me know! This is the third year I’ve had them and despite following instructions on bananas.org I’ve had 0 luck. But this bed was beets and onions, and carrots this spring. Now it’s tomatoes, yardlong beans and okra… And the finicky bananas! These are last year’s banana pups. I brought the 3 foot tall plants in for the winter and grew them in the house with grow lights. I may just need more lights this winter. Anyhoo.

I also have beds around our back porch and I like to grow melons on them.

I switched to Asian yardlong beans this year and I’ve been pretty disappointed. Something went wrong and I’ve only got a few vines, with even fewer beans. But because it’s so hot I will have to make replanting an evening or morning chore.

I live on a large suburban lot. We’re on about a quarter acre. Most of the backyard is dedicated to feeding our family. I would like to add two more cinder block beds, like the two that I currently have.  Instructions on how to build hugelkulter beds here, and then I think I’d be happy with what I have and could move into the harvesting part of building a food forest. It’s taken me 7 years to get where I am so it’s not a quick thing to build a working permaculture system (that still plays nice with the hoa rules.) and it takes years before fruit trees will start bearing.Is it worth the work? Definitely. Is it easy? No. It’s a skill set, like any hobby or profession. But can you learn to do it well?  Absolutely. You just need to have someone teach you how, in person or online. And that’s what I’ve dedicated this blog to: teaching the skills that my grandmother’s and my mother taught me. Things that newcomers need to know, to be successful.My garden hod and a grocery bag full of basil. This is about a third of what’s out there. I stemmed the leaves and ended up with 9 tightly packed cups before I gave up and tossed the rest of these plants into my compost. Next year’s soil! 9 cups of basil leaves blended in olive oil filled a single ice cube tray. But we’ll have fresh basil all winter.

Right now: I’m still in the process of building a new small bed that will house my cool weather herbs and greens on the north side of the house. I have a melon and cucumber forest on trellises around my porch. I’m not going hungry for sure!

Tonight I made a fresh, from scratch: Basil pesto.

Tomorrow I’m going to make a quick refrigerator pickle with my onions and cucumbers from the garden. and fermented salsa, which I looooove! I may put my recipes up soon. By then I’ll be getting into pickling my cucumbers. Hopefully I will get to try my first canteloupe and watermelon of the year. It’s been a fun year to garden.

Same melon as above, but further along and developing netting.

I forgot my watermelon was an underpreformer for me last year. I’ll need different seed next summer!

I hope your year has been great for gardening, too. If you are struggling or new to gardening: go up to the top of this page and open the beginner gardening pages that I have there. Lots of information about how to manage gardens in all sorts of areas. Have fun! And get your hands dirty!Getting my greens in! I’m planning on fried green tomatoes and maybe salsa verde. 9+ cups of tightly packed basil with olive oil, before blending.

Salsa ferment.

My friendly lady bugs. I’m so glad we don’t have the Asian ladybug invaders (that bite) down here! armenian cucumbers.

Don’t believe that you can easily grow figs in pots in extreme heat. This thing really struggled, and I rarely got fruit, before I put it in the ground.

Mexican bird of paradise. Yellow bells.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Helen says:

    When I saw your humidity in the range of 33-38%, I was impressed by how dry that must be, so was surprised that for you that is humid. Here it’s 62% right now and that is dry for us. I guess it’s what you get used to (plus, warm air holds more water, though I’m not entirely sure how that affects readings).
    What kind of hoa rules do you need to observe?

    1. Oh boy, I’m not sure I’d make it if I had your humidity! It is pretty dry here. We haven’t had rain in a couple of months. But we end up with enough humidity that your sweat doesn’t evaporate so you can’t cool down. Right now, my main complaint is the high heat. Our hoa has a busy body neighbor who drives around looking for things that they can complain about. So, we can get in trouble for really minor things. Luckily, everything they’ve complained about came with our house so they’ve had to drop the complaints. Also, my front yard is usually flowers and caladiums but we’ve had a deer issue this year and they’ve eaten everything down to the ground, even things they aren’t supposed to like. It’s definitely been frustrating! Thanks for coming by! I appreciate the visit.

      1. Helen says:

        The deer and the hoa must be frustrating! As the sweat not evaporating, I hadn’t thought of that. The worst thing I find about humidity is not being able to get dry after a shower….

  2. tonytomeo says:

    ‘Hachiya’ persimmon is actually my favorite! Of course, they are not popular at all anymore. No one wants the astringent sort. I think that if I were to recommend a persimmon, I would recommend a ‘Fuyu’ too, though. It is good while still firm, but alternatively, can be left to ripen to mush sort of like a ‘Hachiya’.

    1. My astringent persimmon is a saijo and while I do like to eat a few of them fresh each year, I don’t have a good use for a whole tree full of syrupy fruit. I’ve found that I really, really love the fuyu. I could eat those all day long and still want more. But again, not really sure what to do with a mature tree full of fruit, when I’m not a fan of them cooked. I think I may make refrigerator jam with them, where you don’t cook them down as much or just freeze them and thaw a few out every once in a while. The ones I can get at the grocery store are super expensive and really, not that impressive, so I’m happy to have a tree to grow and ripen them on! Thanks for coming by! I always enjoy your comments!

      1. tonytomeo says:

        They are too perishable to be very good in the store. They can not be harvested while ripe. Otherwise, they would be too soft.
        You know, the native American persimmon that grows wild there is an excellent fruit too, at least to those of us who have never experienced it. I get the impression that those who know it are not so impressed by it. I brought some seed back from Oklahoma. The fruit is of course very different from the Japanese persimmons.

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