Aaaaahhhh… Tropical air mass. The tropics don’t come to Texoma very often but that is exactly what happened this past week. You may recall I stated the fortunate rain event we had back in mid-August could be a game changer? Well, this week of below average temps plus on and off showers has sealed the deal. Forecast for the week of this printing is for reduced rain chances but temps remain in the eighties for afternoon highs. Right in the “sweet spot” as I call it.
Does this mean that summer 2018 is now history? Might be so but I am not pulling the air conditioner out of my bedroom window just yet. However I did sleep with the window open last night. First time since spring… Let our air conditioners, fans, and the electric bill have a rest.
This Sunday we celebrate with a nice range fed beef roast and a couple trees to plant. Maybe piddle in the veggie garden some. It looks mighty sad after the excruciating heat of June , July, and August. I think I am down to one egg plant that made it through. Out here we collect rainwater and do not have the luxury of city water. That said, the veggie plants at the nursery did not fare a whole lot better even though we can water there. Irrigation really helps but is only keeping the soil moist.
“But I watered,” is something we hear a lot in our business. Some folks seem to think that they should be able to grow anything, including tropical plants, if they water often enough. As long as the weather stays fairly mild (the sweet spot is temps between 80 and 95 (f)) then that rings true. When the high temps are above 105 (f) with very low humidity your ill suited plants are gonna suffer. We saw more leaf scorch this summer than we have seen in a long time. This is not a disease that is curable. It is called summer in Texoma.
This summer I learned plenty about the benefits of shade. The last two okra plants that were surviving out at the house were in the shadiest location I planted. Just this morning I observed a squash that had managed to make it under the large leaves of our native poke salet (phytolacca americana). It had literally wrapped around the larger plant and stuck it’s growing end directly under the center of the pokeweed. Seeking the shade for sure. Yet most vegetable seed packets will tell you to plant in full sun. Not this year… Not at my house and even with irrigation at the nursery our early spring planted squash did not live into July.
Squash, along with tomatoes and most peppers, are truly tropical in origin. The survivors will be fine now that we have some humidity, lower temps, and natural rainfall. They bask in this tropical air mass.
In the landscaping biz we do see plants that apparently are bred special for Texas. Hostas, clematis, and several others are advertised. While this gives some hope it does not guarantee long life in the western two thirds of our great sate. You won’t find hostas that proclaim they are special bred for the East Coast, or Upper Midwest. Regular hostas all do fine up there, even in full sun. Down here they are considered a “shade plant” so we dare not expose them to full sun. Years ago we sold Texas bred hostas at Wichita Valley. Not anymore, we care about our customers…
Speaking of customers, we had a pretty good Saturday at the nursery after the rain stopped. What we are seeing now are the wise ones. They are not “waiting for spring.” They know from experience and education that now is the best time to plant most things we attempt to grow outdoors. It is a pure pleasure to work for and with veteran gardeners and landscape enthusiasts. September should our best month for sales… It isn’t.
Martha Davis and crew spent those rainy days planting seed in the greenhouse then moving the flats outdoors. Some seedlings are already coming up with rain. On Saturday she planted some mesquite beans I had stripped out of the pods and treated with boiling water. Go ahead and laugh if you want but we have sold over 100 of them so far. Mesquite, as tough as they are, cannot be transplanted from the field.
My peaches and plums had lost every single leaf by early August. The venerable old mesquites that shade them did not even blush. Yet, they failed to make any beans this year. That tells me something wasn’t right. Probably the same thing that croaked most of my veggies. Too hot, too soon, and not enough rain. May is historically our best sales month… Not this year.
So, we had a pretty cold winter followed by spring with several late freezes then the abrupt switch to hot and dry conditions. Spring was short and “not so sweet” in 2018. We all deserve this tropical air that has come early. While some see the cloudy skies and feel gloomy. I see riches and redemption in the rain. Come see us!!