05 September 2013

Going out with a bang

Okay, it's officially too hot. It was near 90ºF yesterday afternoon out on the deck and up in the loft. Today's predicted high is 33ºC in Tours, Paris, Reims, and Lyon — between 90 and 93. Those are the spots in France that are supposed to be hotter than a firecracker on the 14th of July (Bastille Day, ha ha ha). Summer is going out with a bang.

Vines baking in the sun at 5 p.m. on September 4, 2013 — seen from the back yard

Why is it that I always end up out back digging in the dirt on the hottest day possible? For weeks, I had long been planning to go pull the weeds in the plot in the back corner of the yard, till the soil, and and put some autumn plants in there. But first we had to harvest the dill and the coriander (cilantro) we had sown there early in the summer. We wanted to gather the seeds of those plants.

I'd had these little collard and kale plants in pots for a month or two. Now they're planted for a fall crop.

So I finally was ready to till up the plot yesterday and put in the plants I had in mind. It was hot, but I wasn't out there in the hottest part of the day. The photos in this post, however, are ones I took at around 5 p.m., when the temperature was at the top of the scale and the sun was at its brightest. I was out watering, to try to make sure my kale and collard greens survive. Then I came back in and collapsed. No air conditioning here...

Somebody asked about the volunteer tomato plant that's growing in the gravel outside the back door. Here it is (two of them actually, one much smaller) surrounded by some potted plants.

With any luck, the greens will grow this fall. They're going to need more water than we've been getting, but tomorrow the weather is supposed to turn stormy. Over the weekend, temperatures are going to fall from 30+ down to 20ºC (from 90 to 70 in fahrenheit), according to the forecast. I'm looking forward to that.

You can see the holes some animal has dug at the base of these tomato plants, exposing the roots.

That marten / fouine or whatever has come back and done some more digging around the base of our tomato plants. He must be desperate for moisture and something to eat. The roots are partially uncovered. I need to go cover them this morning, before the hot afternoon sun cooks them. It would be a shame to lose our tomato crop at this point, after waiting so long.

P.S. I just came back in from repairing the damage to the tomato plants and watering them. One of them had been completely dug up (the one with shriveled up leaves in the photo). I guess we can ripen those tomatoes inside if we need to.


  1. It reached 35.5 degrees C yesterday as we drove through Chambon (about 5km from here).
    That's pretty impressive for September.
    I wonder if it's large birds, such as magpies, digging under your plants.

  2. The weather station recorded 39.7 Centipedes [in full sun] at around 5pm...
    but after that it began to fall.
    Thank the Gods!!

    Our poor squashes are really looking forward to a cooler period...
    they are standing there looking horribly limp...
    and the cukes are looking very withered on the older leaves...
    crispy, even, in some cases!!

    Those tomatoes will ripen happily outside at the moment, even if the plant is totally wrecked...
    they just won't get any bigger.
    We are now pinching out the lead shoots from all but the cherry toms...
    to encourage them to ripen.

  3. I hope you soon catch the critter that is disturbing your tomato plants.

  4. Maybe you should try and catch your digger friend. I've been told there are special marten traps which allow you to catch the offender alive. You can then set it free on the other side of the Cher. Don't forget to put an egg in the trap to lure it in. Apparently they are fond of eggs! Or you could 'post' Bertie by your tomato plot. The marten doesn't stand a chance when he finds himself eye to eye with your tiny black panther. Martine

  5. I like Martine's idea. We have caught and released several raccoons who thought our cat's pet door was for them. The traps are worth the money.

  6. We have a large garden. Occasionally raccoons decide to dine in.
    A spray bottle of water mixed with pepper sauce, think Tabasco, usually discourages them.
    No expert on this, but they seem to come back to the same plant they were at the night before. A few spritzes usually works. They smell it before they get to it and, no, there is no aftertaste when you sit down to table.

  7. Whoa! I didn't realize that I missed my Ken Blog experience this morning! Just buzzed in now and read the post. Can't believe your heat. We've still got lots and lots of green full-size tomatoes, and only about 4 that are taking on some color. We're expecting hot temps for several days, so I'm hoping to get something red out of all of this. Fortunately, no digging pest here!


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