Gardening in a frying pan

Is it too hot to garden? It is most definitely not too hot for weeds to grow, and brown as the lawn is, the crabgrass and nutsedge are still growing, so there are chores to be done. Temperatures in the shade feel ten degrees cooler, but there are no weeds in the shaded parts of the garden, so I’m dripping sweat in the sun.

At one hundred and four degrees many blooms are melting in the afternoon sun, curling and browning at the edges like bacon in a frying pan. I think that I’m doing some curling and browning also, so I work a bit, then cool off inside, then get back to it. I tried dangling my feet in the swimming pond on the theory that if your feet are cool, you’ll feel cooler, but the water was too warm, and it only made me feel sorry for the fish.

Though the lawn is cooked the garden looks surprisingly content in the heat, despite a lack of rainfall as recent storms have detoured at the last moment. A week ago, promising dark clouds on the western horizon veered north or south, but in the past week there have been no storm clouds at all.

Idiot that I am, I’ve planted a gardenia (Gardenia ‘Pinwheel’, below) and a few caryopteris on recent days when temperatures were nearing one hundred. I could have, and probably should have waited until cooler weather, but I wanted to enjoy the blooms now. So long as I’m conscientious with watering they’ll be fine, and though this weather is far from ideal I’ve had good success in the past planting in similarly dreadful hot spells.

Though I’m not a fan of grass, and would rather see the entire lawn turned to garden, it has reached the point that I am forced to pay some attention to perking it up a bit. I don’t irrigate the lawn at all, and rarely bother with weeds or fertilizer, so now the lawn is brown with only scattered areas of green. There are patches of bare soil that are too shaded, or too compacted, and my wife has mentioned more than a few times that “something” must be done.

When temperatures are not quite so hot in a few weeks, and if there’s a bit of ground moisture I’ll aerate the front lawn, and top dress with compost to help with the soil’s compaction. In bare areas, and where weeds have overtaken the lawn I’ll overseed, and a soil test is likely to show that lime and fertilizer are needed.

This is beginning to sound like a major project, but I’ll not worry about the rear lawn for now, so it shouldn’t be too bad. Thankfully, it’s too hot for this project until late in August, so I can ignore the lawn for a few more weeks. While it’s hot I’ll need to water the new plants a couple times each week, and if it doesn’t rain this week I’ll need to keep an eye out for other parts of the garden that might be parched. Fortunately, I’ve been able to keep up on weeding by pulling a few here and there as I stroll through the garden each evening, and despite the heat I enjoy the garden a heck of a lot more on an August afternoon than I do on a snowy day in February.

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