As I write this, it’s 105 degrees. Yep, welcome to the California’s central valley. I try to get a few hours of work done out in the yard early in the day, but by mid-morning, I have to retreat inside. But I’m not always done satisfying my craving for gardening by 9 am. Are you the same, and want to stay active and connected to your outdoor space, but start to melt? Here are 7 garden projects for when it’s hot, which can be done inside the comfort of your cool home. Preferably while eating ice cream, drinking cold tea, and sitting on top of an AC vent.
Update your garden journal
Oh yeah, remember that? That little book of blank pages that back in January, we had such good intentions of regularly updating? I won’t think any less of you if you forgot about it back in March. I know I did. But now is a great time to pull it out and update things like what varieties didn’t survive transplanting, what flowers the bees are visiting the most, and that tomato you wish you planted more of.
Organize Your Seeds
After spring planting and summer seeding, it’s quite possible that your seed stash is a mess. Now is a great time to go through and check for expired seeds, compost the varieties you hate and won’t grow again, and make lists of what you need to buy for fall or next spring. Make sure to check out this post for how I organize and store my seeds.
Plan for Next Year
I am a planner, and can never get tired of planning gardens. Edible or ornamental, I get a thrill from thinking about how individual pieces work together and making a plan and a schedule to make it happen. Planning is part of the gardening process, and even if you think you’re not a planner, you are doing it unintentionally. As we walk and work in our space, we think about things like “I should have planted that over there” or “I need to plant more of this next year”.
Now is a great time to sit down and record those thoughts (ahhemmm….perhaps in the aforementioned garden journal?!), laying out new planting beds or a new design, or making lists of what you will grow next year. And even though it’s fucking hot, now is the time to plan for fall planting. Where are going to plant your garlic? Do you have enough spinach seeds? If you’re new to fall gardening, check out this post for easy fall crops to get started with.
Organize your seasonal recipes
This is a task to assist you to take advantage of the summer harvests and all the flavors at their peak. Go through your favorite cookbooks and flag new recipes to try or flip through the binder of magazine cutouts (please tell me I’m not the ONLY one with a binder still, am I?). Collect ideas to savor the ingredients of summer, before they are gone and you’ll need to wait until next August to make that pickled peach salad with burrata or berry pie.
Someone gave me a hand-made flower press when I was a little girl, and I still have it. I loved collecting flowers and leaves and pressing them between the pages of paper and cardboard and tightening down the clamps of the press. If you have flowers growing in the garden, or bouquets bought from the farmer’s market, why not press a few of those blooms? What a sweet way to send some love along with a handwritten note, later in the year when the days turn darker?
Here is a great tutorial on how to make your own press, or track down an old phonebook and simply slip the blooms between the pages!
Save Tomato Seeds
Pick up an heirloom tomato from the farmers market or have a variety growing in the garden that you just love? Save the seeds and grow it again next year! Check out a full tutorial on how here.
Read or Take a Nap
Let’s take a page from hot climates all over the world, and take a nap during mid-day. According to Sleep.org, the tradition of mid-day siestas dates back thousands of years. The name comes from the Latin hora sexta, which means “the sixth hour”, so if you start your day at dawn, is noon. Believed to have been started to allow farmers a chance to recover physical strength, siestas allows people to sleep through the hottest part of the day and avoid the sun’s strong midday rays.
Still caught up in the go-go-go western culture that napping mid-day is lazy or you can’t make yourself relax mid-day? How about reading instead. Reading usually comes to mind when it’s cold and drippy out, curled up on the couch with tea and a cat. But reading is usually a summer activity for me, forced inside from the garden when it’s too hot. Choose a new gardening book or perhaps just a fiction book filled with natural life. I just finished reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer and really loved it.