The past week of triple-digit temperatures with no rain was unusually warm for May and was sustained long enough to have had an effect on both gardens and farms. Even with adequate watering by the gardeners, the plants are showing stress in the form of browning of leaves and lack of flowers.

In the vegetable garden, the lack of flowers means no beans or poor pollination.

On summer squash, the large flowers require over 30 hits from a pollinator to fully develop the fruit. Typically at the end of summer, the number of insect pollinators drops and poorly formed fruit is the result. Some of my squash are showing this same issue.

The squash flowers will continue to be formed and the pollination will return to normal when the temperatures and bug population return to normal.

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Beans, however, are another issue. The flowers are reduced but some of the beans have shut down completely and will likely not recover. The best way to deal with this is to pick what beans are there, remove the dead vines and plant a new row of beans.

In the flower garden, the hydrangeas of course go through their drooping leaf issue every afternoon but most seem to have done well.

Those plants in afternoon sun are showing browning of the leaf edge, indicating that the sun was dehydrating the leaves. You will notice this more on light-colored foliage which tend to burn quicker in an average summer and are best in morning sun rather than full sun. New leaves on plants are produced continually and they should return to normal now that the temperatures have dropped, but it will take a few weeks for the garden to catch up to where they should be. Many of the plants, like roses, have so taken a temporary break from flower production. Those that are still producing well are worth noting as they are the true survivors in your garden.

Your lawn is doubtless more like shredded wheat than the usual lush green of early summer. They should recover, but it will take some rain or irrigation to help it to recover.

Mature trees should be able to survive this stressful period, but they typically do not show a reaction to stress for several seasons. Further drought conditions though can result in premature leaf fall in late summer. This again will right itself by next year.

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Kate Copsey is a garden author, writer and speaker now living in eastern Orangeburg County. Her book, "The Downsized Veggie Garden," is available from bookstores everywhere as well as her webpage, www.katecopsey.com.


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