Let's talk about summer growing in Texas this week. When I say Texas, I don't mean the most northern part where it is a bit cooler. I mean south central and western Texas where it is hotter than you could imagine if you live in the northern part of the United States. I know. I grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York and even on the hottest days, it was never Texas hot. In fact, we wore sweat shirts in the mountains in August during summer camp and even light jackets. Here, we use light jackets for winter, not summer.
Good Monday morning. Another teen started this morning with us. There are four adults and her today. Tomorrow, hopefully, one of our employees will be back from jury duty plus the teen's sister will be joining us then, as well as the other two teens that we already have.
So I am out here in Fulfillment filling some orders and creating posts. I am also in the middle of filling the pond again which I cleaned this morning.
A lot of orders are being held up because the seeds that we were supposed to get on Friday still are not here. I hope they show up soon. I have to keep answering emails about these orders. It is sort of funny that everybody wants the same one or two items at once. And those popular items change from year to year. I wonder why everyone orders the same things? Who is telling them what is popular from year to year?
At 9:45am, we opened up the door to the kennel where we had our leghorn chicks, after being in with the hens for one and a half weeks. It took them a long time to go out. Once Foghorn Leghorn left, he began chest bumping the adult hens, letting them know he is the new king of the hen house. I am not sure how this will play out today so we will keep an eye on it.
Summer growing in Texas is no joke. This is now the fourth week of summer where the heat has been over 100°. At first, we were bringing in baskets and baskets of fruits from the plants. Things are slowing down in the gardens. There is no longer as much fruit ripe each day like there was at the beginning of the month. Some plants have completely stopped producing and need to be pulled up.
We had such high hopes as the temperatures stayed pretty good in May. Then June came in with heat just like it was 2022 again. The rain has stopped. We water a lot. It is just too much with the heat. Summer growing in Texas is done.
My potatoes have been half dug up because they all died instead of growing more. I was doing good getting them dug up and then last Tuesday, they pulled a wisdom tooth and told me not to do any hard work. I need to get the rest of the potatoes dug this week.
I have 14 sweet potato plants. They look good but where are the other 16 that I paid good money for and planted. Well, first they arrived looking bad but I soaked them in water for several days and they all had roots on them when I planted them. Sixteen of them died because summer growing in Texas would not work for them. I am amazed that I got any at all to grow. Of course, they will probably get pulled up soon anyway. I went out there last Friday to make sure they had not been mysteriously pulled up.
From now on, I will stick with indoor hobbies that the people coming here cannot mess with.
Today, the second teen girl started with us. They stuffed seeds into envelopes and sealed them pretty much all day long. I tried to fill as many seed orders as I could. We left the farm at 9am to go into San Antonio and do a few important errands.
We got back at lunchtime and then ate before going back out there.
We talked to the only person assigned to weed hoop house five last Thursday. She claims she did not pull up the peanut plants. She says she skipped the first two raised beds in there. I showed her photos of the plants that were pulled up and replanted. No, she would never do it. I asked why she would skip the first two beds. She did not answer. She says she did not do it and that is that. David believes her. So my peanut plants were magically transferred to some galaxy far, far away and no one did it.
A little later in the day, her friend said we have raccoons. Then someone said the raccoons pulled them, replanted some and left the others in there for another day. Raccoons are nocturnal. I check my peanut plants every morning around 7am as I come in from feeding the animals and again every evening between 8pm and 9pm while it is still light. So I guess the raccoons made an exception and came out in the 100° plus weather, picked them, transplanted some, and went back to their hiding place during the day.
So that is how that went. Then I was told that we will never know the truth and to let it go. I was so excited for the peanuts. Now I wish I had never planted anything this year. I am heartbroken and it is even worse because whoever did it will not admit it or apologize. I am just done.
Most of all, summer growing in Texas means having to water plants every single day because it doesn't rain much in summer unless it is a strange year. A few years it has rained almost every day during the summer but that was in the early 2000s. We moved to San Antonio in 1999. I can remember two specific summers where it rained a lot, I mean a whole lot. Rivers flooded and washed away expensive homes. Places in San Antonio flooded and roads were closed for a lot of the summer. Those were great times for summer growing in Texas. But most of those years, it was just too dry and too hot for good summer growing in Texas. I did not get one cantaloupe or one watermelon this year. I feel so disappointed. I planted plenty but most of the vines just died.
Well, here it is, Wednesday morning. I hardly slept at all last night, still upset about my plants being pulled up last week. I hope tonight I can forget about it and sleep. David has a doctor appointment in Boerne today at 1pm so we will have to leave early. Right now, he is teaching the teen summer help how to do things.
The rest of my potatoes got dug up today by one of our teens. I found ten of them, many large, in the chicken coop. Some were rotten but there were parts that I would have cut up and eaten. Chickens do not eat raw potatoes. I just found them and threw them all out of the coop. They all should have been brought in to me. At the end of the day, I had to ask where the potatoes were. They were put up in in the commercial kitchen.
I went up and found them and realized that there should have been more. I have not gone out to check but I was not happy finding them in the chicken coop. I am hoping my sweet potatoes, what few there were left, are okay and not dug up but I won't know for sure until I go out myself and find them. I did check on the three peanut plants this evening. They are still out there. It was too hot for me to go all the way over and check on the sweet potatoes.
So I filled orders all morning and then we left at 11:30am to drive all the way to Boerne to go to the ear specialist. We got lost but finally found it. We had to wait an hour to get in because we were late. But the Physician Assistant was able to vacuum all of the hardened ear wax out of David's two ears. There were four pieces in each ear. I had no idea that there were ear vacuums. Each time it would suck up a big piece, the vacuum would make an awful noise. Then he would show the piece to us and put it on a paper towel. At the end, he said he got it all and David said he could hear. It was time well spent driving all the way over there and money well spent.
We got back to Ethel making potty all over the living room. She also barfed in two places in my office. I got to clean all of that up. It took about an hour to get it all cleaned up. Then I headed back over to work and it was after 5pm. I sent the new people home. They said they did not know it was 5pm.
I cut up a whole chicken and cooked it in the oven with Shake N Bake. I made broccoli and rice to go with it. It was a very good meal. Gordon Ramsay was a replay so we are watching The Jeffersons. We are on season eight now.
The zinnias are good for summer growing in Texas. They bloom and grow tall. One bloom dies or turns brown in the heat and the plant makes a new bloom. The old bloom drops its seeds so more gorgeous flowers will come back next year. Then, deadhead the bloom to save whatever seeds in it did not drop. That is what we do. We save the zinnia seeds from the mixes I make each year out front and we package and sell them as Mrs. David's Garden Seeds® mixes. I sold all of mine from 2022 early in the spring this year. I get so many lovely compliments on the beautiful zinnias I grow out by the Farm Store.
This year, I planted a whole lot more zinnias for summer growing in Texas so we will have more zinnia seeds than ever to sell next spring. The nice thing about zinnias is that they will keep on growing until the first frost takes them out. In Texas, that could be November or December but most of the 24 years I have lived in the San Antonio and Poteet areas, it has been January when we get our first frost. The last four years have been different but most of the time summer growing in Texas goes on until some time in January.
This morning, Nacho and his crew came to cut the property. As soon as Seth stepped into our backyard, he found a baby rattlesnake, about two feet long. He sent him on to his just reward. I did not see him and they did not take a photo. He was right by my plant area. I am terrified and I never want to go outside again.
They found a second snake soon after but he was a "harmless" snake. I am sorry but there is no such thing. They all need to be shot in my humble opinion.
For lunch, we took the crew and their invited guests over to Triple C in Devine for lunch. We celebrated Angelica with some strawberry cheesecake.
Now I am filling the pond. It was filthy and I just cleaned it out on Monday. Once everyone leaves, I will go over to Fulfillment and fill orders. That should be in one hour.
Okay. I scrubbed down the oven from the commercial kitchen which is now sitting in my living room. As far as I know, they only used it for canning but there are some stains and greasy dirt inside the actual oven. I don't think they used it to bake but I guess they did. Anyway, when the contractor comes out here, he is going to pull out the broken oven/microwave unit that will not shut off. He will build some shelves there. He will take out the cook top and my cabinet below that and install this oven that I do not know how to use. I am hoping we will find the instruction book somewhere in David's office up there.
Summer growing in Texas means okra. Okra loves the heat and grows crazy here. Last summer when nothing else would grow, our okra in green, red, and orange, went like gangbusters. It grew and grew and grew. It grew so much that we harvested a lot of it for a beautiful okra seed mix with three colors of seeds in the packs. We call it Feisty Okra because it is just that. Due to cross pollination, the okra pods can be a combination of all three colors, or one or two colors. Every plant will be different. The seeds have been making some beautiful colored okras.
The contractor finally let us know that he would not be coming today. He will be coming on Monday. This may be a problem. I have an 11am dental appointment on Monday because today when I was chewing some very soft toast, a big chunk of my tooth #18 came off. This is the tooth that was next to the wisdom tooth that was pulled out last Tuesday. I am thinking the tooth broke three weeks ago and that is why I was having pain. The wisdom tooth was holding the piece in. I did not chew on that side of the mouth. There is still a big hole in the gum but it is healing.
So I called this morning and Monday morning at 11am is the soonest they can get me in. My dentist is out on a two week vacation so I will be seeing another dentist in the same office. The tooth is sensitive every time I drink anything. I have to be careful not to chew on it.
I saw my family doctor today. My blood pressure is still not right, but it is much better. It is now down to 136/80. Two weeks ago it was 172/82 and three weeks before that it was 172/102.
We stopped by Tractor Supply and I got some more chick food for the babies and a new feeder for them.
We shopped at Walmart for some holiday food. We will be open on Monday but closed on Tuesday for the Fourth of July.
I pulled seed orders and mailed them out for the rest of the day. Not everyone was at work today so, for me, it was a day of peace and I got a lot done.
Don't forget that we are closed tomorrow and every Saturday this summer until David decides to open back up. It is just too hot for us to give tours and too hard to try and find people who will work on Saturdays. I am glad because I get Saturdays again.
Summer growing in Texas is possible for some heat tolerant seed varieties provided you have some shade to grow things in. A lot of people have oak trees in their yards to provide shaded areas. Of course, we do not. This used to be a large peanut field and when we bought it four years ago, there was one tree up in the top left corner, not an oak tree.
So we have had to put up PVC hoop houses with shade cloth to provide shade for many of our plants. Gourds do pretty well in the summer but they do not finish with the gourds until fall. Once they form, they have to dry on the vine and that takes a long time.
As hot as the summers get here, the main thing is to water a lot to keep them alive. Most things stop growing when the heat is this bad. Keep it alive and when things cool down some in the fall, the gourd plants will start growing again. You do have to be patient and wait until the gourds are completely dry toward the end of fall before you harvest them or they will go moldy. I speak from experience.
Today was a very busy day. I stayed home and cleaned the house. So many things do not get done when you normally work six days a week. Our cleaning lady has not been in three weeks now so I decided to do some things. It is amazing how many things she does not clean. I really had no idea. There is still so much more to do. But today, I have to empty some kitchen cabinets and get ready for the contractor to do some remodeling tomorrow.
Our $3200 oven and microwave combination will not turn off when I use the oven portion. So we are removing it and the cook top, which is separate, along with some cabinets. Then the commercial kitchen oven will go in the cook top's place. The hole in the wall from the oven will be turned into cabinets. I did not want to do it but we cannot take the chance of burning the house down, especially when we watched our neighbor's house go up in flames in May.
Summer growing in Texas is hard in the heat, especially when we have 100° plus temperatures. Actually, when the temperature hits around 90°, it is pretty much done for growing things for the summer. What makes it worse is that the temperature usually does not go below 75° Fahrenheit here in the summer months. The plants get no relief from the heat and just stop growing. If you can keep watering them throughout the summer months until it cools down, they will start growing again. But that is a lot of time and money in water. David prefers to cut them down, and pull them up and start again new in the fall.
Good Sunday morning. Last night, I saw flashes of thunder when I was in bed. This morning, the ground is all wet. It finally rained! I am not sure how much we got yet as I have not gone out to feed the animals yet. But it is good to know we got something after more than a month without rain. The grass is brown and crunchy and we need a lot more.
We got about 1/10th of an inch. David has been watering all over the property starting early this morning. I went out and took care of all of the animals. Then I started cleaning up the kitchen from last night. We had a fruit fly outbreak and they are still here in the kitchen and in the den. I got the dishes put away and loaded the dishwasher again. I am unloading the cabinets for tomorrow's remodel in the kitchen.
We went to church and about half of the congregation was gone. I guess people go away for the 4th of July. I wish we could! I would love to go to the beach.
David said he is making some changes this week. Plus the employee who has been out for the past two weeks texted this morning that she is planning to come back in a week. I cannot wait. I am worn out from doing her job plus all of mine!
The worst part of summer growing in Texas is usually the lack of rain. Once in a while, we will get a summer where it rains nearly every day but that is the exception. Normally, we will go months at a time in the heat with no rain. We can water every day, but watering is not the same as when God sends the rain on the plants. There is a huge difference in how the plants respond. They love actual rain, not water from a hose. Water from a hose can keep the plants alive but when it rains, they seem to spring to life with green color.
But this time of year, we are not getting much in the way of rain in South Central Texas.
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