Every year I swear that I will stop planting things in the garden once the scorching summer days begin. And every year I keep doing it anyway. This year is no exception. My excuse this time is that although usually it doesn’t get really hot until August, this year the heat started in June, and how could I stop planting so early? I don’t plant that much once it gets hot — a couple of days ago it was just 15 small Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) and last week it was a few Stemless Ironweed (Vernonia acaulis).
The problem is that keeping young plants going in this heat requires a ridiculous amount of effort: watering pretty much every day if there is no rain and providing them with shade when the sun is blazing down. That artificial shade has been provided by a variety of objects: a beach umbrella, white buckets propped up on large rocks, shade cloth stretched out over a wooden frame, and even an old lawn chair. This year I had to retire the lawn chair because it became too difficult to bend it into a usable position. I guess even lawn chairs get creaky and cranky with age.
The time consuming part of this operation mostly comes from messing around with the covers. I take them off at night (to let dew settle on the plants) and when it rains, or perhaps I should say when it looks like it’s going to rain. If I’m home on one of those days when rain is predicted, and the sky and wind tease with the promise of rain, alternating with blasts of sun, I dutifully trot out covering and uncovering them.
Most of the plants that I coddle this way do survive. Come to think of it, that’s probably why I keep doing it. However, next year….