Dear Friends and Gardeners, Week 19

R. 'Belinda's Dream'
R. 'Belinda's Dream' isn't very dreamy

Dear CarolMary Ann and Everyone,

Last summer, I wrote about summers that make you forget you live in hot, dry Oklahoma.  This summer is its infernal opposite.

You know it’s hot when . . .

  • the rosebuds air dry before they completely bloom
  • you go outside only to water the containers and check for any vegetables, and you are dripping sweat within a moment or two;
  • the thermometer measures 108F for days and days and days;
  • the air conditioner is running full blast indoors, and it’s still not cool;
  • you go to the hospital, and you pass folks in the parking lot who not only don’t say hello (which in Oklahoma is odd), but they also walk with their heads down as if to ward off a blow;
  • concrete parking lots shimmer like diamonds too bright, and asphalt streets create mirages from their surface heat;
  • you no long make hot tea, but instead, ice it at 6:00 a.m. for your morning drink;
  • water travels with you everywhere, but your mouth is still dry;
  • watering the containers twice a day doesn’t really help; and

I could go on and on, but who really wants to?  The tomatoes quit blooming over a week ago.  They try, but the blossoms fall off unpollinated.   As you both know, this is called blossom drop, and high temperatures are to blame.   I brought in two tomatoes to ripen.  I hope I get to eat at least one of them.  I have a total of seven tomatoes on 13 plants.

Never mind, I don’t want to talk about it anymore.

Even so, I’ve had eggplants, ancho chili peppers and cucumbers this week.  My bush beans emerged from the soil so all is not lost.  Two hills of the squash finally succumbed, but that’s all right too.  One thing about long summers, the borers have probably moved on, and I can replant.

I made the best Thai basil eggplant (and the recipe follows).  My eggplants were ‘Fairy Tale’ and ‘Bianca’ so they were very small.

Thai Basil Eggplant

Five small or two regular sized eggplants, sliced thickly and cut in half (or quarters if using larger eggplants)

One ancho chili pepper or two of any other chilis

One teaspoon of red Thai chili paste (I used Thai Kitchen brand)

One onion sliced and then cut into halves and separated

A generous handful of basil leaves.  I just pinched mine from the basil growing in a pot outside my kitchen door.

Half a block of tofu sliced and halved.  (You could also use small pieces of pork or chicken)

Four tablespoons of a mild oil.  (I used grapeseed oil.)  Don’t use olive oil because it will change the taste.

Two teaspoons of fish sauce.

One teaspoon of gluten free soy sauce like Eden Organic Tamari gf sauce or the San J brand (if you don’t need gf, can use regular soy sauce, but increase to two teaspoons)

Two tablespoons brown sugar

In the oil, add the tofu and the spices.  Brown the tofu on all sides until it has absorbed some of the spices.  Add the brown sugar to carmelize the tofu a bit.  Add the vegetables and a small amount of water if necessary.  Add the remaining ingredients except for the bail and cook until the vegetables are tender and the spices appear to be blended.  Then, add the basil and cook for approximately five minutes.

'Sungold' cherry tomatoes right before I washed them and ate them one by one.
'Sungold' cherry tomatoes right before I washed them and ate them one by one.

It was delicious.  So were these ‘Sungold’ tomatoes I ate.  The powder on them is Bt.  I washed them first, but it’s an organic pesticide for the hornworms which have been abundant this year.  One ate all of the leaves off of one of my heirlooms.  That’s when the Bt went all over the tomato plants.  I’m careful with it because I don’t want to affect other caterpillars on my dill, parsley and milkweed.

Not everything is suffering in this heat.   Hibiscus x ‘Moy Grande’ is happy, and so are the bumblebees who drink its nectar and then rest in its shade.   Yesterday, I started to remove a faded bloom and found two bumblebees inside.  Glad I didn’t squish them.  Now, I’m more careful, and I find them all over this plant.  If you live where it’s hot and you have the room, H. ‘Moy Grande’ is pure pleasure even in this heat.  It grows to five feet high and five feet wide and has flowers up to twelve inches across.  I tried to get a good photo of it, but couldn’t because today’s blooms were already starting to wither.  I’ll try later.

Hope your weather is better than mine.


  1. Cindy, MCOK says:

    You KNOW I can relate to your list of “you know it’s hot when”. My Belinda’s Dream isn’t living up to her name either: not only the blooms but the foliage show the stress of too much heat and drought. 70 days till October!
    .-= Cindy, MCOK´s last blog ..A Mystery On My Corner of Katy =-.

  2. Though we haven’t had quite that high of temperatures, your weather sounds much like ours has been in recent weeks. We’re crying for rain and even with watering every day, the plants seems like they’re hanging on by the ends of their petals. Things are a couple of weeks ahead of a normal schedule as far as blooms are concerned and the blooms don’t last long at all. Makes me wonder what will be blooming by the time the garden tour rolls around on August 9th. Mums? LOL.

    I’m so jealous that you can grow Crape Myrtles! Our Lowe’s had them at the end of the season last year and I was very tempted to buy one and keep it potted up, but I didn’t. I wasn’t sure how that might work. They’re such a beautiful tree.

    I hope you get some cool weather and some rain and us, too.
    .-= Kylee from Our Little Acre´s last blog ..Blooms in July =-.

  3. Gail says:

    Oh Dee, I think Layanee’s right…road trip! But it would be hard to leave the garden unattended. I love sungold tomatoes…they are a tasty treat. gail
    .-= Gail´s last blog ..July Bloom Day~~A Few Flowers That Make Me Smile! =-.

  4. Ellen says:

    I’m a longtime reader and fan, and just wanted to say I love your blog, and admire you and your garden. I’m an ex-Oklahoman who may or may not move back there someday, but reading your blog reminds me of old friends, and a lot that is under-rated by outsiders but precious about the state.

  5. Pam/Digging says:

    I feel your pain, Dee. It’s hot, hot, hot. And dry, dry, dry. We’ll just have to muddle through somehow until October. Maybe fall comes earlier for you. I hope so.
    .-= Pam/Digging´s last blog ..Cockrell Butterfly Center in Houston =-.

  6. keewee says:

    My sungold tomatoes are just starting to ripen, and the black russian are still green, but with a little more warm weather (not today,as it is raining) I should see some color change.
    I feel for you having to suffer such heat, if it gets above 85 degrees, I start complaining.
    .-= keewee´s last blog ..Soggy Monday =-.

  7. Oy, you are some hearty folks down there in OK to withstand those temps. Here, on the other hand, things have been weirdly cool. Our tomatoes are slow because of the cool temps. (Well, that and the fusarium wilt.)

    Keep cool, baby,

    Robin Wedewer
    .-= Robin Wedewer´s last blog ..Why Bad Things Happen to Good Gardeners =-.

  8. MA says:

    What color is the hibiscus?

    I can’t wait to make the eggplant recipe…later today. Thanks.

    My letter will be up in a bit.
    .-= MA´s last blog ..Dear Friends and Gardeners (week 18) =-.

  9. Rose says:

    I admire you for getting out in the garden at all on such hot days! I would wilt, too, if I had to spend all day outside with the sun beating down on me:) Your cherry tomatoes look delicious, though; we’re a long way from fresh tomatoes here yet.
    .-= Rose´s last blog ..Out on the Streets …and Country Byways =-.

  10. lynn says:

    Dee, this is almost exact to my eggplant recipe! Minus the tofu…I’ll have to try that! And Thai basil is the only variety I grow as it’s used most in vietnamese recipes. Thanks!
    .-= lynn´s last blog ..It’s a Beautiful Morning… =-.

  11. It sounds like the bees had found a cool spot in the shade. I just can’t imagine days of that unbearable heat. At least somethings are doing ok in it.
    .-= Mr. McGregor’s Daughter´s last blog ..Weird Oakleaf Hydrangea Flowers =-.

  12. Those Sungold tomatoes look delicious. I’m sorry about all your heat, we’ve enjoyed a mild summer so far, with just a few days that got to the low 90’s. I hope your heat doesn’t last too much longer. Since your first frost date is later than mine, maybe you will have a chance to re-sow of your vegetables?
    .-= Carol, May Dreams Gardens´s last blog ..Letters to Gardening Friends, July 12, 2009 =-.

  13. Layanee says:

    Time for a road trip Dee. High temp today 75F and sunny. Beautiful. Sorry it is so hot there but it will pass…won’t it? Love the sungold tomatoes but I am weeks off from fresh tomatoes.
    .-= Layanee´s last blog ..Through the garden gate =-.

Comments are closed.