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May 2018, Week 5, Heat Wave and Hello June

We enter the last week of May with continued abnormally warm weather and start June with an escalating Heat Wave.

Heat Wave by Martha and the Vandellas

What's on your agenda for the last week of May?

I've been thinking about this a lot because it is going to be so very hot from at least mid-week onward that I am pretty sure gardening time will be restricted to the first 2 or 3 very early morning hours after sunrise and then maybe to the last hour or so before sunset.

Things on my list:

Pull the half-dozen or so Texas 1015Ys that suddenly have begun to bolt at the exact same time their leaves are lying down to signal they're maturing and almost ready to harvest. What do I say to these onions? Hey guys, y'all are sending mixed messages! (sigh) It isn't even that I blame them. In this crazy weather where we were flooding in February, burning up in March, Freezing in April, had one day of Spring in April, and then Summer weather arrived with May.....maybe the real miracle is that every single onion hasn't already bolted. I'll harvest the few that are sending out a seed stalk tomorrow and we'll use those in cooking this week. With the rest, I'll wait until about 90% of them are lying down, and then I'll harvest them and lay them out on a table or on the baker's rack (better air circulation) to cure for a couple of weeks. Then I'll put them in dry storage indoors. So far, the Candy onions look fine---some of them now have 12 or 13 leaves so they ought to size up a bit more than the 1015Ys, but none are lying down yet. They usually follow closely on the heels of the 1015Ys. I forgot to look at the Copras closely enough to count their leaves, but they have an entirely different color from the other two varieties---their foliage is a deeper blue green. The others are more of a yellowish green. I need to think about that and figure out why. They are all in the same bed together, but the 1015Ys and Candys took a hit from herbicide drift, so maybe that explains the difference in foliage color.

Take out the rest of the Cherokee lettuce and feed it to the chickens. I've been doing it bit by bit but I'm tired of looking at it and it is more and more bitter by the day. We're headed for the upper 90s by the end of the week if not sooner, so it is time to move on.

Harvest the last of the Contender beans and pull the spider-mite infested plants. This is the variety with the worst case of spider mites and I don't want for the plants to just be serving as spider mite nurseries to grow mites that can move on to the tomato plants. So, they're coming out of there. There's marigolds interplanted with the beans and I'm sure that when I look at them closely, they likely will be spider mite infested too. I'm going to leave that bed fallow for about a week so any stray spider mites can find their way elsewhere before I plant a succession crop of melons there.

Work on the two small remaining problem areas. The biggest one is to the south of the new toolshed in the garden. It is about an 8' x 10' area between the entrance arbor and the shed and is an overgrown mess of cannas, four o'clocks and irises all slugging it out for space. I want to cut them all back to the ground (because this is the copperheads' favorite hangout), rake up the plant debris, and then dig up everything and move it else where. Then, in that spot I'm going to plant something else that will be better behaved, mulch it and then stay out of it as much as possible because of the aforementioned copperheads. The other problem area is a place where comfrey keeps outgrowing its space and looming over the pathway that runs north-south from the entry arbor to the north fence line. Every time I walk down that path, I'm just hoping there's not a venomous snake under that confrey ready to zap my foot or leg. So, I'm going to dig those up and move them back by the garden's fenceline along the northwest corner and they can slug it out with the poison ivy trying to invade from outside the fence. May the best thug plant win.

Harvest tomatoes. Harvest onions. Harvest snap beans. Keep an eye on garlic and potatoes in preparation for the harvest.

Plant new, shorter flowering plants where the comfrey is being removed, and plant thesefurther back from the path. I am not sure what I'll plant there but I have a couple of options.

Weedeat the tall Johnson grass growing outside the garden fenceline so it won't try to invade the fence. This is a losing deal. In the long run, the grass wins, but I'm going to fight it as long as I can.

Deadhead the daylilies, lcardinal flower and verbena bonariensis.

Drink water, Gatorade, iced tea, juice, etc. all day long every day. Remember the sunscreen. Wear the garden hat. Watch out for ticks and mosquitoes....and chiggers. It is about chigger time.

Try to make it back indoors each morning before the heat index gets too much above 90 degrees.

That's my plan for the week. What are y'all going to be doing?

Remember, if you want to raise your own fall tomato transplants from seed in order to have them ready to transplant into the garden in late June through mid-July, now's the time to be thinking of starting those seeds. If you raise them outdoors in the sunlight, you won't have to harden them off like you would if you raise them indoors. It is critical in this heat to water them pretty much daily while they're small and still in their starter flats or paper cups.

Keep an eye on Alberto. not that he's likely to do anything to help us out.


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