Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dry, Hot Weather

We had a wet April but recently we have been in an extended dry spell, and, more recently, very hot weather. In the past seven days we had four days in a row over 90 degrees, one of which reached 101 degrees. With that heat and no rain (and little moisture in the soil) plants suffer. In my garden the cucumbers and summer squash most dramatically show the effect. By early afternoon on those very hot, dry days they looked like they were dying. Their leaves - both cucumbers and squash have lots of leaves and only root in one place - get seriously wilted. Once the sun goes down they perk up again if I have watered in the past day or two. But fruit growth appears to stop. We recently picked large amounts of squash (nearly 10 pounds one day) and cucumbers (more than 10 pounds one day). But now there are no squash or cucumbers to pick. I assume one plant mechanism when it is hot and there is little moisture available is to stop making the fruit that uses so much water.

If I am correct, when we get rain (if we get rain) and cooler weather the little cucumbers and squash will again form and grow.

I had thought that one of the summer squash plants that had really wilted and tipped over had succumbed to the squash vine borer. But I can't find any evidence of damage to the stem of the plant. No frass. No holes that I can find. So maybe the cheese cloth I wrapped around their young stems did work. Time will tell. I hope that the time for the insects that lay the vine borer has passed because I just planted some more squash and cucumber seeds.

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