Again this summer has been filled with days of extreme heat and little or no rain. Our work, money, and time have not been rewarded with a grand vegetable harvest and mounded plants filled with blossoms. It seems impossible to do everything that needs to be done–that’s because it is impossible. It’s bad when the usually relaxing garden work becomes stressful. I’ve constructed the following acronym to help with this stress:
This acronym is a help to everyone–but especially important if you happen to be coping with illness or disability. First, get up early–no time is better for you and the plants than working in the garden early in the morning. The heat is lower and the plants thrive when watered early in the morning. Watering in the heat of the day burns plants and doing so in the evening invites a host of fungus and unfavorable insects.
Next, ask for help, either in the form of working on a friend’s garden, then both of you return to your garden, or by paying a small amount to a neighborhood teenager with a little interest in gardening. Adults, if you didn’t know, gardening is now cool. Young people are getting involved with planet-saving and organic gardening.
Next, reach for water. It’s simple but you wouldn’t believe the number of people who try to satisfy their thirst with a beer or a diet soft drink full of caffeine. Both of these of these dehydrate you and this could cause a heat-induced illness. Everyone needs a total of eight classes of water and more is needed if you find yourself sweating excessively. If you hate plain water, try a flavored water or, my favorite–iced peppermint tea.
Next, don’t expect perfection. Like parenting children, we must pick our battles in the garden to be successful. Try doing some tasks well, instead of doing a fair/poor job on everything. For example, a small raised bed or several (or even one) container gardens.
Next, eat light. The fresh vegetables and fruit are in season–so take advantage of them. Enjoy a breakfast of cottage cheese and peaches. Stir fry eggplant, squash, onions, and peppers and add fajita seasonings and roll in a tortilla with a bit of soft cheese for lunch or dinner.
Finally, never give up. Use the previous ideas to create a small space that expresses your garden spirit and knowledge. Seeing a well-ordered space or container will inspire you to put a little garden time in every day. Enjoy the benefits of gardening without drudgery and exhaustion. Try to stay cool, hey, you already are cool-you’re a gardener!
If you have any gardening questions, call the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Services at 704.922.0301 to speak with a Master Gardener.
Article by: Cindy Hovis