The slow steady rain that soaked the ground a couple weeks ago has moved on just as quickly as it had come. The few blessed days of cool weather rapidly retreated with the clouds leaving behind the oppressive heat that characterizes this part of Arizona in June. This makes for days that are not as productive as we would like, because by noon the temperatures are typically over 100 degrees, and it is not worth killing ourselves, so that means taking a break until about 5:30 when it cools down, and you work until about 8:30 to get your work done. The heat is taking its toll on the farm as well. The sheep lay in their shade with their fan blowing on them panting most of the day. The pigs move back and forth between their shades and their mud puddles searching for relief. The poultry are losing their feathers and dropping production with the stress from the heat. Watering has become much more time consuming now as we try to keep the plants watered with the sun baking the moisture right out of the ground.
We have been getting several requests to share some gardening tips with our audience. Gardening tips for the heat are very important for successful gardening the Arizona desert. Some plants begin to show signs of stress at this time of year. Tomatoes love hot weather, but over one hundred degrees and the blooms don’t set. This means you will have flowers, but they will not set fruit. You can help this by providing shade and deep mulch. Shade and deep mulch that is kept wet can help create a micro climate that is just cool enough to set some fruit. This is not a guarantee, but it has helped us. Another plant that is starting show signs of stress is the squash and zucchini. Again, they do well in the heat, but when it stays above one hundred production drops and the plants start showing signs of stress. We have found that removing the leaves that get ugly and show damage encourage new growth and more fruit. God has designed these plants so that when you start removing leaves like this the plant thinks something is eating it and that encourages growth and fruiting because it wants to pass its genetics on before it dies. Again, mulch and deep watering is important. While these plants are showing signs of stress others are just reaching their stride. It is important to know when plants produce their best, and when their down time is, so you can plant to always have something in production. The chilis, eggplant, and okra have just exploded with growth and production. These plants do not really do well until the extreme heat arrives. We just planted some black eyed peas last week, and they are loving this weather. With all your plants you should try to do your watering at night as this allows the water to penetrate deeper in the earth. It also helps to prevent evaporation so that every drop counts. Living in the desert you want to try and be as water conscious as possible.
The 5 Points Farmers Market has continued to be a blessing to us every week. I hope we see you out there this Sunday. We will have tomatoes, tomatillos, squash, zucchini, and eggs this week at market. We will also have micro greens from Avra Valley Growers. There will be sunflower, peas, radishes, and wheat grass. Ol’Mccraney’s Farm will be at market with produce. He has had some beautiful green onions lately. Forbes meat company will be there offering quality local meat processed by their artisan butchers. Spadefoot nursery will be offering a great source of plants suited for our climate. Remember buy local, and eat food that grown locally and appropriate for the season. I hope you enjoyed this post and learned something. We will be posting more in depth posts on plant care in the future. Please respond with any questions or comments.