Today is working out to be slightly cooler than yesterday; it’s coming up on 6pm as I start this, and we’ve been at 28C/82F for some hours. We’re not expected to start cooling down for at least another hour. Longer, if today is at all like yesterday.
It was getting pretty late last night before I finally headed outside, fogging myself in mosquito repellant, and started on the squash patch.
I did remember to take a before picture. Every pair of sticks shows where there is a summer or winter squash, a pumpkin or a gourd. The straw mulch we laid down may help keep the soil cool and moist, but it isn’t thick enough to choke out the weeds. It also makes weeding – or even using the weed trimmer – impossible.
One of the apple gourds is relatively robust. The hulless pumpkins, Baby Pam pumpkins and Crespo squash plants are also doing comparatively well. The green zucchini, Teddy, Georgia Candy Roaster and Winter Sweet winter squash, however, are all very tiny. They should all be much, much larger for this time of year.
I am hoping that using the cardboard to smother the crab grass and weeds around the squash plants will help. I did things a bit differently this time. Previously, when preparing an area with cardboard to be covered with a straw mulch, I laid down flattened boxes in overlapping layers, making everything at least 2 layers thick. The overlaps were 4 layers thick or even 6 layers, depending on how they ended up overlapping.
Obviously, I couldn’t do that, here.
Most of the boxes were roughly the same dimensions; there were a lot of banana boxes in the pile! When flattened, they made long rectangles. I cut each in half, so that I could lay each piece down as a single layer, positioning 4 such pieces at right angles around each plant. That meant two boxes for each plant – mostly. I barely had enough cardboard to finish the job, but some of the boxes were large enough that I could cut them down further, and use just one box around a plant. I got them all done, with no cardboard to spare at all.
It was a brutal job.
For all that I used mosquito repellant, I was still being swarmed. Any spot that didn’t get sprayed was attacked. It’s one thing to find myself being bitten in the butt because my shirt shifted as I bent over. It’s quite another when they would fly under the lenses of my glasses and go for my eye lids. Yes, I actually got mosquito bights on my eye lids! On top of that, because of the heat, it wasn’t long before I sweated off the repellant. At which point, I was just a mosquito buffet! By the time I was putting down the last pieces of cardboard, I was spending more time flapping my arms and doing the mosquito dance than anything else!
By the time I was done, it was quite dark, so an after photo had to wait until the morning. We did have a small thunderstorm during the night. As usual, the bulk of the system blew right by us.
None of the cardboard blew away, however! That was my big concern. Interlocking the pieces of cardboard seemed to have done the trick.
As we get more cardboard, I do want to fill in the spaces in between, but the squash and corn patch needs to be done, first. For now, this should help. I’ve picked up a slow release, granular fertilizer that will be applied soon. I just don’t want to be feeding the crab grass as well as the squash!
Hopefully, I’ll be able to get another van load of cardboard, soon. I did manage to get a few boxes today, when I stopped at the post office/general store. Possibly enough to do one row in the squash and corn patch. We shall see.
Another thunderstorm is being predicted for tonight. I do hope it actually happens, and gets swept northward. Not only to help cool things down here, but there are some major fires to the north of us. At least one of the reserves had to be evacuated yesterday. Rain would certainly help get those under control. For all the flooding we had this year, most of it affected the south of our province. The further north you go, the less affected it was, which means those areas will still be prone to fires.
Just out of curiosity, I checked our 30 year temperature records for today. We’re still at 28C/82F as I write this. Our average for today is 26C/79F. The record high was 33C/91F, set in 2011, while our record low was only 6C/43F, set in 2000. So we’re pretty normal for this time of year. If our spring hadn’t been so awful, this would have been a very productive gardening year.
It’s hitting the girls in their upstairs “apartment” the worst. My younger daughter just cut all her hair off, to help keep cooler. Their switching to sleeping during the day and being active during the night hasn’t been working that well this year; the nights are simply not cooling down much. As a surprise for them, I made a trip to a Canadian Tire this morning, and got one of those Arctic Air cooling fans. I’d much rather have picked up a portable AC unit for them, but not only are they ridiculously expensive, there aren’t any in stock in most places right now. The window AC units are much more affordable, but there is only one window it could possibly be installed in, and it won’t fit with the way that window opens. In fact, that’s true of all our windows. Best bet would be to actually have one installed through a wall, not in a window. Since we don’t actually own the house, that’s not something we’re going to start doing!
Ah, well. It is what is it. We’ll manage!