Extreme Heat: Can your garden survive?

The Southwest expects extreme heat - but not necessarily in June.

The Southwest expects extreme heat – but not necessarily in June.

The jet stream is galloping north, and we of the high desert are in line for temperatures at 115F — and up. Extreme heat for here – we get blistering hot temperatures in July, August, September – and we expect it then. But it’s June, for Pete’s sake.

Can your garden survive extreme heat?

There’s no guarantee that gardens, lawns and newly planted trees can come through extreme heat stretches unscathed, but they’ll have a better chance of making it if you take these preventive measures while you can still step outside safely:

Veggie gardens:

  • Mulch – layer on three inches wherever possible. This will keep the soil cooler and help retain water.
  • Water –  deeply and often. Use a trickle hose or soaker to get the water to the roots instead of into the atmosphere.
  • Shade – leafy greens have a better chance of surviving with a shade cloth, which may slow down bolting.


  • Soak to get water through dried soil. Water as early as possible in the day to reduce evaporation loss.
  • Skip the mowing until the weather cools off – not just for your health and safety, but also for the health of your lawn.
  • Set your water system for pre-dawn hours if at all possible.


  • Trees need two to four inches of water each week to survive the high temperatures. Skip the sprinkler and grab the soaker hose.
  • Water early, water slow, water deep, especially on new trees and shrubs.
  • Mist can help save shrubs by protecting delicate foliage (if you’re willing to “water the air” to do so).

Bottom line, though, is this: You can grow another garden. You can recover, reseed or pave over a lawn. You can coax many trees back to health —or replace newly planted ones if they don’t make it.

You cannot, on the other hand, come back to life if you die of heat stroke.

Extreme heat can kill you. Know the symptoms of heat illness and heat stroke. Stay hydrated, and be alert for changes in your body temperature, pulse and blood pressure, and watch out for dizziness, pallor. If you STOP sweating, take immediate measures to cool down.

To your garden success!
Casey – the Garden Lass

Attack of the Killer Tomato Killer

semi-vertical tomato wreckage

I pulled it back upright but most of the tomato plant is still horizontal and sulking.

To anyone who’s been through a REAL catastrophe – hurricane, tornado, 20-foot floodwaters washing away the town hall, significant earthquake, erupting volcano hurtling lahar waves down into the valley – well, what’s a bit of wind, eh?

We were supposed to have a real nice wild thunder ‘n lightning storm last night, probably to celebrate the passage of July and all its humidity and bad hair days, and welcoming August and all its humidity and bad hair days. Instead, we got squat.

I enjoy a good thunderstorm, especially with a light show against the north range. The ground shivers and shakes as Thor casts his hammer wide – or at least the mobile home used to shake like a scared puppy. This house, not so much – but it’s still a hoot to watch, especially now that we’re up the hill a ways and have a great wide-angle view.

Pointless Aside: Didja know Thor is also the god of oak trees?

So I waited for the show to start. And waited. Waited more. Nothing north, nothing east – the last lightning show we had was a few weeks ago with a spectacular 20 minutes of sheet lightning that just never quit. Amazing! I’d pay entrance fees for a show like that.

Up here on the hill, the wind also blows pretty steadily. Sometimes it can get up a good gallop and bend the trees to the west pretty well horizontal at the waist. They’re eucalyptus though; they’re used to that. Typical wind runs from southwest to northeast, or south to north, or -rarely- north’ish to south’sorta.

Tomato Disaster Strikes!

But sometime during the night after I gave up waiting on the lightning show, a strange wind blew in hard from the east-southeast. Nothing good ever blows in from that direction. That way is many square miles of desert, a handful of military bases, Death Valley, Las Vegas, the Rockies, some farms, and eventually New York City.

Usually this means we are in for a killer rainstorm, street flooding, flash flood warnings through most of the desert, floating mailboxes, washed out intersections and the like.

Instead, the wind kept things personal. It didn’t bring flood, or rain or hail, or even a warning to watch out for floating compact cars. All it did was flatten the tallest thing I’ve ever grown: The Front Porch Tomato. Even taller than me (which isn’t saying much).

See why I said it’s pretty petty and lame? Stupid tomato vine thing had managed to come up with a handful of blossoms but hasn’t produced a single hint of a tomato. All it did was get a half gallon of water every morning, burp and glare at me. I should be glad it got whomped.