Beating Houston’s Summer Heat: Gardening Early in the Morning

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Heat and humidity can be dangerous for the gardener, so early mornings or late evenings may be your best bet.

I am not fond of the heat. Our weather has caused me to retreat a bit from garden work. However, I have been waking up at three in the morning on most days, so by six, I am ready to do something besides reading. I do not use power or gas powered tools, which means that I do not make much noise. I cut my grass with a push mower at six one morning. Since I did not wake up Sleeping Beauty (the nickname for one of my neighbors), I have continued to go out this early.

    This has been quite a nice time of day to garden. I obtained a few looks from those who exercise at that hour, but one lady stopped to say hello. She said that she and her husband were also doing their gardening this early. If I had a gas powered lawnmower, I could not have gone out. My brother cuts his grass in the late evening, which is good for the grass and the neighbors. The temperature is still quite hot, and the humidity is still unbearable, but I am not too worse for wear. I have been stupid and worked in the outdoors in this heat, which led to a heat stroke once. This is just too dangerous. My early morning adventures in the garden have allowed me to keep working in the garden at the pace that I like.
    What have I been doing in my garden? Normal yard work for one. Cutting the grass and edging. I have had some projects like the fence and compost bin. I am expanding a garden bed which I cal the children’s bed. This was a small garden that began for my son, and is now being taken over by my daughters. I took the potato plants from the pots to be in the new section, but I may be moving some plants to fill in this new bed. My main concern has been to check on the health of my vegetables.
    The amount of rain from Alex has caused stress on my plants. Over watering can be as stressful as lack of water. When checking my plants, I found that they were being attacked. I had been dealing with the snails. Snails climb up the vegetables to escape the wet ground, and they seem to eat more, since they are there any way. However, I found that caterpillars had invaded. I did not have any BT (bacillus thurengensis) on hand, so I started hand picking them off. BT is quite effective, and considered to be quite safe around produce for human consumption. I might need to buy some BT, but I am trying to create an environment which encourages a balance between natural predators and insects going after my vegetables. I lost my chard though. It may come back, but a smaller caterpillar has done in this crop. For some reason, the New Zealand spinach has not been attacked. I have to see, but I am holding off on buying any pest control chemicals. I am thinking of making a spray from my ornamental peppers.
    Did you know that ornamental peppers are edible? They have no flavor, just heat. I read once that all gingers are edible, but they do not have the flavor. I have an ornamental pepper plant in the garden for looks, but I thought that this may be the perfect pepper to create a pest control spray. I make a tea from the pepper, which I use as a spray. I have had good luck with this on some plants. I have also dried and powdered the peppers to use as a dust. This method does not kill the pests, but forces them away from the garden.
    Russia and the United States had its exchange of spies; my brother and I had our exchange of plants. It took place in a parking lot with two unmarked cars. It went well, and the plants are happy.  I had some ginger, and he had a grape vine. I have not had success with grapes in my yard. Not enough sunlight. My brother has the perfect spot for his vines. I found that starting a ginger plant from a tuber obtained from the store can be harder than galanga (the peppery cousin of ginger). The ginger takes longer to establish, and you have to find the right location, but then you are rewarded. My brother and I are both hoping that the exchange will result in benefits.
    I am looking forward to the cooler weather of fall, but for now, I am happy to begin my work early each morning.

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This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank


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