Last week’s heat was brutal, both for the crops and those of us working out in the fields. As I’m writing this, we are getting some much needed rain that will hopefully bring some relief for both us and the plants with some rain and a cooler and perhaps less humid day tomorrow.
But, we have managed, so far, to cope with the hot, humid but dry weather we’ve been experiencing. We are still able to get work done out in the fields, but on those extremely hot days, we work earlier days, take a break in the heat of the afternoon and come back out to work in the evening. We wear hats and clothing to protect our skin from the sun, take breaks, drink plenty of water, and pace ourselves. We try to tackle the more strenuous jobs earlier in the morning when it is cooler and as it gets hotter we perform less active, slower-paced work or jobs we can do in the shade. And, cold watermelon or ice pops have helped us get through the day a few times.
As far as the crops are concerned, we try to grow seasonally appropriate vegetables. But, they still need water and even some of them don’t like temperatures too hot. For example, tomato plants and bean plants will drop their flowers in extreme heat resulting in fewer fruit or beans come harvest time. And, the heat seems to speed up the growing and ripening process, and so we have to be even more vigilant about keeping on top of the harvests. We harvest frequently and sometimes harvest tomatoes on the less ripe side or beans and zucchini on the smaller side just to stay on top of them. We’ve been harvesting our cucumbers, squash and are now just starting to pick okra three times a week in an attempt to avoid balloon-like over-mature cucumbers, giant baseball bat-sized zucchini, and foot-long okra. We do grow lettuce which is more of a cool-season crop all through the summer, but we have to keep it consistently irrigated and even then we only harvest it for a short period because it turns bitter quickly in this hot weather. Did I mention we irrigate? We use drip irrigation, and have been running it almost non-stop during these past few weeks to keep everything alive and producing.
So that’s how we’re getting along here at the farm. I hope you all have been managing to cope with the heat.