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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

How Do You Handle the Heat?!

How Do You Handle the Heat?!

This summer has been a real scorcher for 3/4 the country. Only the Pacific Coast seems to be the exception, with cooler, damper, and a bit more unseasonable conditions. The Farmers’ Almanac had forewarned in its 2010 edition, “July is the month to watch for summer heat arriving in full force across much of the nation At least 80 percent of the country will swelter with above or much above normal temperatures.” Well, the East Coast has certainly been hot and last week the middle of the country was quite steamy, too.

We decided to check in with some Farmers’ Almanac friends, associates, contributing writers, and Facebook fans from across the country to see how they and/or their gardens were coping with the heat. Here are some of their answers:

Caleb Regan

Caleb Regan

“The more I’m out in the heat, the more I get used to it and it doesn’t affect me. Going from air conditioning out into the heat is the killer, so typically I try to get all of my work done outside at once, earlier in the day if possible. I’ll work for a few hours, then when I get to a spot where I’m done I sort of pack it in for the day. With the garden, I water more in the dead heat of the summer. Once in the morning hours and once in the evening, and if I can, I check the garden midday and water if it looks dry.” - Caleb D. Regan, Associate Editor, GRIT Magazine, Kansas

“We don’t have central air conditioning at my house, so we have to be smart about managing the heat. We open the windows at night to let the cooler air in, then shut them and close the curtains to keep the heat out during the day. During the summer, we do most of our cooking outside on the grill, and eat on the back porch, where there’s usually at least a gentle breeze. On very hot afternoons, we go swimming in a nearby pond. That feels especially good after a few hours of yard work!” - Jaime McLeod, Farmers’ Almanac Contributing Editor, Maine

Andrew Odom

Andrew Odom

“For me, the first step to coping with the heat is to redefine ‘hot.’ Sounds a little silly, I know. But it has helped me all summer long. In summers past, I would avoid the outdoors and the associated heat in favor of the indoors and ridiculous thermostat settings that were more appropriate for penguins than humans. In fact, before I moved to my current farm, I lived the big city life and could often be found under a blanket, on the couch, in the middle of summer. No more, though! By getting out in the heat more and slowly (but surely) pushing my heat exposure and tolerance, I have been able to redefine heat so that 85 degrees feels like a good, solid, working temperature now and 95 feels like a bit of afternoon at the beach.

I think it goes without saying that allowing myself to sweat has been incredible for a number of reasons. Sweating cools you off. Sweating also rids your bodies of the toxins and impurities that we unfortunately seem to put in there. And lastly, I don’t take fluids for granted. And I guess by fluids I mean water. This summer I have avoided almost all caffeine (except a cup of coffee in the morning and a glass of tea at dinner) and have completely eliminated artificial juices and preservative-laden drinks. Pure water allows my salt content to stay balanced, my sweat to literally pour out, regulating my temperature.

My garden is another story though. My plants don’t have the luxury of sweating, choosing when they drink, or even escaping the sun. They are firmly planted and have to take what comes their way. Although the Georgia heat has played a toll on them in the last few weeks, they are still standing. I water early in the morning. Yes, the dew is still heavy but it doesn’t sit in dirt the way it does on grass. It soaks in very quickly and, because the dirt is so dry, it doesn’t last long. I am careful not to water the actual plant but only towards the root. While I don’t want them to get rot or any fungus I don’t want the leaves to literally bake in the early sun either. Sometimes when it is especially warm during the day (and especially dry) I will take the hose and soak the root area about an hour before it gets dark. This gives a little extra punch to them before bedtime. Other than that, I figure that it has been hot for years and years and years and people have battled it long before me. I plant, I pray, and I keep on going!” - Andrew Odom, Farmers’ Almanac Contributing Writer, Georgia

Hank Will

Hank Will

“I cope with heat by filling a 2-foot by 2-foot by 6-foot stock tank with cold water peeling off the sweat-drenched clothing and sitting in it for an hour or so … sometimes twice each 100-degree day. The garden copes with 10-inches of hay mulch, a south windbreak of sunflowers and some evening watering.” - Oscar H. Will III, Editor, GRIT Magazine, Kansas

“Water is the key to coping this summer-water to swim in, water to drink, and water to keep the plants and garden healthy.  We are fortunate to have a swimming pool that has been used quite a bit this summer. Just a quick dip now and again can make the difference between wilting away and surviving (we don’t have central air conditioning). Our ceiling fans have also helped, as long as you’re just sitting under one.  Cold water to drink is a must this hot summer, not only for me, but also for my plants. I water the garden at dusk to avoid fast evaporation and have had to water my planters on the deck sometimes twice a day. When I think the heat is just too much, I look at pictures of the big snowstorms we had last year and feel better.” - Sandi Duncan, Managing Editor Farmers’ Almanac, New Jersey

And from our Facebook Fans:
“I just plant cactus and stay in the air conditioning. …both are doing great!!!” - Jim Lucas

“In Florida, we plant in the spring, like first of March, and even though it is hot, we usually have a good crop if we pour on the water. Our rainy season comes later but so do the humidity and heat. By May our gardens are finished and that’s a good thing; we can go fishing, boating, swimming and deal with the summer heat that way. Or just hope the AC holds up another season!” - Judy Hurst Crowder

“I’ve found here in central Louisiana that I have better luck by soaking my garden down until it’s extremely wet and damp; do it again when it’s almost dry instead of watering a little every day. I put my sprinkler on it about an hour after sunset and sprinkle until daylight the next day. With that being said, keep praying for rain because nothing beats a good ole soaking rain!!” - Mark Windham

“Water every other day. The okra is OK on its own, but the tomatoes, jalapenos, and peanuts need help. We are both ready for the Texas summer to be over with. Next year I’m getting straw to put down, keeps out weeds and keeps in moisture.” - Lisa Gipson

How do you cope? Share here.

7 comments

1 Barbara Gallups { 08.22.10 at 12:43 am }

I hope this suggestion might help some. We use to have a window fan. About1hr
before bed,close every window in the house except the BR’s. Open two windows
in the BR. If you have more than 1 br only raise 1 window in each br. The NEXT
POINT IS VERY IMPORTANT. DO NOT RAISE ANY WINDOW HIGHER
THAN 2 to 3 inches .Turn fan on. Fan should be in a window that is two or 3 rooms away. A plain box fan will work just be sure to have it secured & both sides
have a piece of plywood or something that will fit securely between fan & window
facings. I promise you will be cool & before morn it will be cold. B’ham,Al

2 NK { 08.21.10 at 9:03 pm }

We have grapes and trees all over and by the time it’s actually warm , they shade the garden and the bedrooms so at night it’s cool. This year was cold for so long that we have no ripe tomatoes or anything really. I planted fall seeds and they have come up so I guess we have spinach, chard, collards & beets, chinese greens. Oh well, they are very healthy and we have a winter crop. 2 years of cool weather has taken a toll on our farmers and contractors so we are hoping for a warm spring next year.

3 skhunt { 08.20.10 at 10:44 am }

We’ve been living with a Heat Index above 110 going on forever now. Stepping outside is not fun. When you DO step outside, you’re immediately engulfed in stifling hot air that wraps around you like a sauna. I break into a sweat just holding a waterhose to water the flowers. Our greatest threat right now is wildfire because it’s been so dry and the temps are so high. I’m ready for October too!!

4 santa fe shirley { 08.18.10 at 10:34 pm }

i live in south texas-there is no “coping”. i just complain all day & sit in front of an ac with a fan on high & wait for october!!! :D

5 Megan { 08.18.10 at 9:24 pm }

We don’t have AC, so we do what was mentioned above (open up at night to let the cool air in, close during the day). To cope, I usually go to the pool just a few blocks from my house, or when I’m at work, I soak up the AC there. Sometimes it does get a little warm, and I’ve found that putting an ice pack on the back of my neck helps tremendously. And I drink water and tea every day–I drink pop too, even though that does the opposite of what I need. But there’s nothing like a Coke when it’s hot out.

6 Flake Fan { 08.18.10 at 5:09 pm }

We close all our windows tight, put our ceiling fans on full blast, and hide in the basement until the sun goes down again! Perfect way to deal with a heat wave, IMO!

7 J.C { 08.18.10 at 1:24 pm }

I cope by puting ice all over me with water in a bucket

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