This weather is a killer. Yesterday, an all-time record in Austin: 112. 110 here, with a hot wind blowing. Nighttime temps--in the low 80s--are breaking records, too, not just here but across the country. Water in my garden is at a premium: the aquifer is dropping. One of our 3 wells has gone dry and the house well is producing about a gallon a minute. I've been experimenting with various ways to keep my veggies growing. These recycled 2-liter soda bottles, topped with a plant watering spike, are the best I've found so far.
I cut the bottom off the bottle and screw on the watering spike, which has a hole at the tip and 2 other holes. The bottle is easy to fill with the hose. If the holes in the spike clog with dirt, I clean with a bent paperclip. Previously, I simply used the bottle, lid screwed on loosely, buried to the neck in the soil beside the plant. Worked okay, but it a tendency to tip or get knocked over. The spike holds the bottle firmly while it delivers the water to the plant's roots. I'm pleased. The plants seem to like it, too. They wilt less, especially in mid-afternoon, when it's 114 in the garden and the soil has heated up to about 140 degrees (no lie!). You'd wilt, too.
Things that don't work for me: mulching seedlings and young plants (pill bugs run from all corners of the county to congregate under the mulch and chomp on the plants); shadecloth (too much wind); and soaker hoses (our well pressure is too variable). I do mulch larger plants.
So far, I've been able to manage the watering, even in this drought (fingers crossed that the Trinity aquifer will hold up). But the heat has certainly had its effect. I wrote about the baked beans. Here's a photo of my mini-melons, with a teaspoon to give you an idea of scale. When it's super-hot, the plants may produce, but the veggie or fruit is likely to be misshapen, or in the case of these open-pollinated Edisto melons, miniaturized. They should weigh a couple of pounds, but these are the size of a Texas peach. Bill and I ate them for breakfast--they were delicious, just not enough of them, and not big enough!
I realize that too many of our friends around the country are suffering from a surfeit of water--floods along the Missouri and the Mississippi, stream flooding from Irene--and that it is hard for many of us to imagine a long-time, serious drought. What we're experiencing here in Texas and elsewhere in the South is as much a natural disaster as a hurricane or an earthquake, with an impact that is widely felt. In fact, you'll be feeling it in your grocery budget before long. Whether this drought and heat are related to global warming is still an open question in some scientists' minds. What I read tells me that they are, and that while the situation may modulate (we may get some rain, maybe even a tropical storm next weekend), this is likely to be the new normal.
Still no news on that writing project I mentioned last time. When I get word, you'll be the first to know. I promise.
Reading note. Humanity treads today on a slippery slope. As we continue to pump greenhouse gases into the air, we move onto a steeper, even more slippery incline. We seem oblivious to the danger--unaware how close we may be to a situation in which a catastrophic slip becomes practically unavoidable, a slip where we suddenly lose all control and are pulled into a torrential stream that hurls us over a precipice to our demise.--James Hansen, Storms of My Grandchildren