Janice Peterson: Cool weather makes for good living, poor gardening
The weather this year has been pretty nice (for a change!). Fourth of July was beautiful. Last Tuesday was the first really hot, humid, miserable day of the year—not bad for end of July.
The weather this year makes me feel like I'm living in Camelot. Not too hot, not too cold, not too wet, not too dry. It only rains at night! The rainfall has been very well timed with decent amounts at regular intervals. I know the farmers are digging this, and I'm grateful not to be hauling hoses around for hours every day.
I installed a new perennial and shrub bed at my home recently and it is establishing very nicely. Cool season crops like peas, lettuce and spinach have been hanging in there extra-long this year. And lawns around town are looking great (well, maybe not all of them, but not for a lack of moisture).
There have been a few drawbacks to this seasonable weather. Weeds seem to be producing bumper crops this year (luckily because I'm not watering so much I have more time to weed). Plants that love super-hot weather are taking their sweet time getting going. Hot and sweet pepper plants are looking pretty puny so far this year, and hot peppers need the heat to increase their pungency. Tropicals like elephant ears would of course prefer very high temperatures. Even my snail vine is growing at a snail's pace!
Rotary Botanical Gardens has planted 25 small-sized melon varieties around the Horticulture Center. Melons prefer hot, sunny locations. These plants have just recently started gaining some vine length and are starting to flower. Fortunately, being small-sized they generally have shorter days to maturity.
So how is your garden growing? Are you having any issues with slower growth and weeds, or does your yard look like Camelot this year?
Janice Peterson has worked as a grounds horticulturist at Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville since 2002. She is a master gardener with the Rock Prairie Master Gardener Association. Though her education is in plant science, she considers her love of gardening and strong back to be her true qualifications. Janice is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. Her opinion is not necessarily that of The Gazette staff or management.