Will and I are hard workers and all, but we both really can’t handle the heat well. It’s been in the 90’s for several days now and boy, are we ever panting as we set out tomatoes. So far, we’ve planted more than 150 plants in the Sand garden, with most of them mulched with reed canary grass hay, staked with steel T-posts, and caged with concrete re-enforcing wire, plus the variety name on a stake, in front of each plant. We do have a system; Will digs the holes, I select the plants in the greenhouse, alphabetically, bring them down, write the names on wooden stakes, take them out of their cups or pots, then drop them in the holes. Will follows up, planting each one in, then finishing off the rest while I go back and get another batch of plants. In cooler weather, we work pretty much all through the day with a few short breaks. But when it’s in the nineties, we struggle; plant for fifteen minutes, then take an hour break. Besides the heat, it’s been dry, dry, dry! So we’ve also been watering and I’ve been planting more corn and beans. We have such a short season; we feel we need to hurry to get everything in we can right now! By the grace of God, it rained over an inch last night. We were so very thankful as our plants loved it and so did we. Being off grid, there’s no such thing as central air conditioning. Whew!

Right now, despite the intense heat, we’re setting out our sturdy tomato plants.
Will and I have a system down to plant those hundreds of tomatoes and it seems to work.

Yesterday, our granddaughter’s pony finally made it home. But even that was a struggle. Bill’s truck had been in the shop for a little work but he got it out so we could make a trip to pick up Whinny. He, Kelly, and Ava got up early and arrived at our place at 9 A.M. (Ava still didn’t know we were getting her pony!) We hooked up to the trailer and headed out, all happy. We only made it three miles and the truck just stopped suddenly. Long story short; the high-pressure oil pump had quit. I finally was able to get Will on the cell phone and he drove over to pick up Ava, Kelly, and me while Bill waited for a tow truck. Then Will went over and hooked up to the trailer and brought it home as Bill went with the tow truck to the Ford dealer in Virginia (the town). While Will drove over to pick up the pony, I drove the family home. But, all in all, except for knowing that it would cost Bill $4,500 to fix the truck, we had a nice family outing. Whinny is adapting well to our place. I turned her out into the goat pasture to graze for about half an hour then put her in the goat corral. With ponies that have been on dry lot (only hay) you don’t want to turn them out on good pasture right away as they sometimes founder and go lame. So we’re easing her into the grazing. She doesn’t seem to be a hog so I think in a few days she can just stay on pasture. I can hardly wait until Ava finds out she has her own pony!

I just had to share this photo of David, Elizabeth, and Delilah enjoying a swim. It cools me down!

— Jackie

33 COMMENTS

  1. I totally get it! I’m in east Tennesee and we had that same heat wave! Being southerners we are accustomed to that but at 63 I can’t work in it. It was so hot and our rocky soil dries out so fast. But we got a break with lots of rain. Now I got baby zukes and small tomatoes! But nope I can’t take the heat either as a born and bred southern girl.vi just work around it best I can

  2. Here’s my label trick. Maybe it will work for you, too. I use old aluminum mini-blind sections. I cut them with a scissors to about 4 inches long. I use an ordinary hole punch to make a hole on each end. Then, I use a scissors to slice into the hole from the ends. Write on them with an ordinary #2 pencil – it will never fade – and then put them on the tomato cages. The wires will slip through the scissors cut and the holes make a nice secure fit. I slip the cage wires into both ends so they can’t blow off. I usually bend the ends 90 degrees so the label can ‘spin’ around on the cage wire. Good luck! This has worked for me for years. Gotta find something to do with those old leftover blinds….

    • Unfortunately, we don’t have blinds on our windows; I mean, living way out in the middle of the woods, who’s to see us??? I have friends who use this trick so I’m always scouting out the dump for old blinds to use. But so far, my friends beat me to them. AND they’re not such good friends that they share with me. (Hint, Hint??)

  3. Here’s my label trick. Maybe it will work for you, too. I use old aluminum mini-blind sections. I cut them with a scissors to about 4 inches long. I use an ordinary hole punch to make a hole on each end. Then, I use a scissors to slice into the hole from the ends. Write on them with an ordinary #2 pencil – it will never fade – and then put them on the tomato cages. The wires will slip through the scissors cut and the holes make a nice secure fit. I slip the cage wires into both ends so they can’t blow off. Good luck! This has worked for me for years. Gotta find something to do with those old leftover blinds….

  4. Hi Miss Jackie…we are dry dry dry here in western Maine. We so need rain. And we also been in the mid 90s with horrible humidity. Ironically, tonight I have the heat set to come on because it’s only going to be 47. The weather is weird. Pyro

    • YES it is! Only two weeks ago, we went down to 21 one night! Then two days later, it was high 80’s! Gee whizz for “normal” weather!

  5. We find as we age that we can’t handle heat either. Have to get out early and do what we can.
    Be very careful with heat and also the sneaky radiation that comes on cloudy days- heat stroke can sneak up on you. Kombucha is a good source of electrolytes. We are finally having rain here in N. Ga after a few dry weeks, but I still remember the 7 year drought when we first came here. It was brutal!

    Ava is sure to be thrilled with her new pony! What a great life it is for children in the country.

    • Yes, we try to work hardest in the morning and evening when it cools down and the sun is lower in the sky. We ARE very careful of sun stroke! I’ll sure be glad when it begins to rain regularly; we’re very dry right now, especially at planting time.

  6. Wow, that’s a lot of hard work and a lot of tomatoes. The most we have ever planted is 26 varieties to see which ones would do the best in our area. Found some really tasty varieties that thrived that way, like German Lunchbox and Lillian’s yellow heirloom. Still growing them but have added Black Krim to our garden, plus a few others. Still gardening and canning. We have found that the exercise is really good for us but must garden in the cool of the morning and evening. Love the taste of our heirlooms and hate the prices the grocery stores are charging these days. Did I mention that we are are in our 80’s.

    • Good for you, Joyce! Aren’t those home-grown tomatoes so much better tasting than those awful store tomatoes? Did you know that they’ve discovered that there are bacteria and enzymes in the garden soil that are very good for you? Now I know why I love to dig in the dirt!!!

  7. My gosh what do all of you do with so much produce? I know you put-up, Jackie, and harvest for seeds to sell, but how about all these commentors. I’ve never grown more than 8 tomato plants. What do you all do with so much fruit?

    • We manage to use most of the food we grow. For instance, after I take the seeds from tomatoes, I can up tomato sauce, pizza sauce, taco sauce, 5 varieties of spaghetti sauce, salsa, enchilada sauce, catsup, 4 flavors of barbecue sauce, tomatoes with peppers and more! We also give plenty of food to family, friends and neighbors along the way; The “leftovers” such as tomato peels and poor fruit go to the chickens and they give us eggs and manure for the next year’s gardens.

    • Not dumb at all. A wonderful, old-time tomato guru who grew 1,500 varieties of tomatoes said he only planted his two feet apart and didn’t get crossing. We plant ours 5′ apart…just to be safe. Tomatoes are perfect flowers, having both male and female parts in one flower so they are pretty much self-pollinating. Yes, crossing is possible via insects. But in reality, it seldom happens.

      • Another thought; we stake and cage our tomatoes so the plants don’t intermingle, possibly letting their blossoms rub together, which is another safety net around here.

  8. Try mid 90’s, 75+% humidity and no A/C! Last week, we were in the 80’s and tons of rain. We are in N. Central TX and the breeze from the gulf is just loaded with humidity. It is a way of life here for us. Got to love fans.

    • Yup, today it was 91, the humidity was 87. Hey, this is northern Minnesota, for cripes sake! And being off-grid, we have very limited AC, only during the day, in one room. We do love our fans!!!

  9. Getting into the 90’s here and we are a long way from August It’s going to be one of those years
    We are trying to get up earlier and do more in the cool if the morning and also the late of the evening In the heat of the mid day it’s stay in by the AC

  10. Here in far north California we had hundreds all last week, but now tempered down into low 80s. My garden’s been in since the first of April, so I missed the hot temps thankfully. We think about moving north to milder summer temperatures, but I’d have to garden in a greenhouse, though, and there would be real four seasons, not just kinda 4 seasons!

  11. Thanks for the cooling pool picture – also heat wave here.

    I have found 2 things that help me with heat – drinking more in advance of going out in the heat even when I’m not thirsty, and drinking a homemade electrolyte solution (salt, lite salt, Tru-Lime (or lemon or grapefruit)).

  12. I am sooo sorry you have to work so hard in that heat! It just about kills me! And what a set back on the truck! Poor Bill
    Congratulations on the pony! I bet Ava is going to have lots of fun and learn many lessons. My ponies were my best friends and the very best teachers I could of asked for. What amazing grandparents.

  13. It’s a beast here in South West Wisconsin—SO HOT. I’ve got 66 tomatoes planted and I’m done. We have not had any significant rain for quite some time , it is very dry. We cut and baled some rough pasture. I fear hay prices will be high. Everything is getting more expensive. We’ll be busy canning all we produce. It’s a busy time. Drink plenty of fluids!

    • Yes, everything IS getting more expensive!! My son, Bill, recently bought an 8′ 2″ x 4″ and it was $8. And he has a sawmill. Not a happy camper!!! We’re scared about the hay too. Many of our fields actually froze a couple weeks ago when it dived to 21 degrees over night. We’re hoping they’ll recover. I’d like to know how many gallons of water we drink in one day!!

  14. To he tomatoes look great Jackie. I planted almost 200 allmy myself. Now I’m working on mulching and supporting them:)

    • What are you going to do with so many tomatoes? I’ve planted six san marzanos to make paste and sauce. I don’t know at this point how many plants are necessary to make paste and sauce for maybe a years use for two people.

      • Check out my reply to Elizabeth Johnson, above, to see what our family does with more tomatoes than Billy Stuart. We never buy a tomato based food from the store and I can up enough for 2 years as you never know what may happen (COVID, heart attack, broken bones, family moving back in with you or a crop failure).

    • Yes, she will. They’re coming up Sunday for Fathers Day and we’ll surprise her then. Can’t wait! We try hard to take lots of breaks and work most in the early morning and evenings till dark when it’s cooler and less sun.

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