Gardening in this Oklahoma Heat Wave

Even though it is only July 13, it has been a long, very, very hot, summer at Hawkins Springs Farm and all across Oklahoma.  Fortunately, our garden plants are doing well because we are watering 24/7 – Greg has the irrigation system running constantly to  the gardens.  The plasticultured rows have probably saved the crops by retaining the moisture for the plants.  Another good fortune has been our corn crop this year – the ears of corn were sweet and plentiful.  The corn plants grew amazingly well – we picked our first corn last Friday evening and as we were picking, we noticed something extraordinary – nearly all of the corn plants had their “tertiary” ear and a handful even had 4 ears of corn and then we noticed one plant had five ears of corn growing on it with three that were good picking size!  Amazing – totally amazing, because corn generally produces only 2 ears per plant.  We should have probably contacted Guiness about that!

My daughter told me they got a good heavy shower in Sand Springs yesterday and another shower this morning.  We watched the dark clouds roll over us last night late with lightening flashing in the distance, but it refused to rain.  This morning when I got up, I noticed the deck was wet; I checked the weather station monitor and it said we had 2/100 inch of rain since midnight; but the good news is that the temperature was 73.  Yesterday morning it was 76.  We are keeping our fingers crossed that the heat wave is trying to break.  The biggest effect this heat wave has had on the garden (besides totally draining all of our energy) is that tomatoes will not set fruit when the temps are constantly over 90 degrees which equates into no one being able to produce any tomatoes other than what is already on the vine.

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Plasticulture Programs director called yesterday morning to see if we had been able to get a garden in this year (remember all the rain we had in March, April and May??? seems like so long ago!) and how it was doing.  He told me that some farmers in the program had not even been able to get their crops put in the ground; a lot of others had got their gardens in late, and those folks weren’t going to have any tomatoes because the heat wave and drought set in before their tomatoes could set any fruit.  Bad, bad year for veggies in Oklahoma.

We are still going to Saturday Market in Langley; the crowds have been decent, but the intense heat is taking its toll on us vendors.  And to top the heat off, the nasty, toxic blue-green algae has appeared in not only Grand Lake, but in all of the surrounding lakes including Keystone.  Bad, bad summer for outdoor activities in Oklahoma.

On the flip side, the heat loving veggies – okra and peppers mainly – are doing very well.  Considering they were all late getting in the ground, they are growing well.  All peppers have set fruit and are growing well – we have already picked a few early jalapenos and sweet banana peppers; the rest of our 145 pepper plants are not far behind.  The okra looks great and we are watching daily for those first blooms.

Right now, as I am writing this blog, it is beginning to lightly shower. . . I think I will go out and let the rain drops fall on my head and keep my fingers crossed for more. . .  And my good friend Millie just called and she and her daughter are driving up from Tulsa today to visit, and that’s the best news I’ve had in a few days!  Uh-oh, it is now pouring down!  Gotta go shut the vents on the sunroom before it rains in – haven’t had to do that in quite a while!  Life is getting better as I write!

Ronda (who is feeling the relief from the rain!)

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