Dealing with August Drought

* If you have to ration water in the food garden, give the first drinks to tomatoes, peppers, beans, leafy items like lettuce and chard, and any young fruiting plants – like squash or peas – you planted for autumn crops. Don’t worry about melons and summer squash that are already producing – plants may look wilty at midday, but once the fruit is set it’ll taste better if it ISN”T irrigated.

* Among annual flowers, give preference to those that will keep blooming after frost: asters, calendulas, honeywort , snapdragons, stocks … And don’t forget that big plants in pots are practically on hydroponics by now – those pots have more roots than soil in them and may need water as often as twice a day.

* Inconsistent water supplies lead to blossom end rot in tomatoes, and being where it’s on the blossom end you often don’t notice it until the rotten part gets huge. But why let the tomato plant waste energy on failures? It only takes a minute to get down , look up, find the ailing fruits and get rid of them. If getting down far enough to look up isn’t easy, you can use a mirror just gently turn large tomatoes that appear to be ripening. With any luck, that’s what they’re doing, but changing color can also signal that something’s going wrong.

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