Adapting To the Heat

The Garden’s Bounty

This year we lucked into ping tura eggplant, originally from Taiwan, that handles heat and arid conditions far better than the usual.  The plants weren’t cheap, but their productivity is high, and the flavor is good, without the bitterness often associated with eggplant.  In fact, they’re quite sweet.  While the “Black Beauty” types we bought when we couldn’t find our usual ichiban have produced two fruit among three plants, the ping tura are so prolific that I picked three fruit off of just one plant.

 One thing we’ve been exploring as our summer temperatures have mounted over the last decade (our summer high so far is 113 F) is finding plants that will not only tolerate the heat but will thrive in it.

One of our first discoveries was the liana bean (sometimes called yard-long or asparagus bean).  They’re a climbing type, fast growing, and provide the bonus of a very pretty large lavender flower.  Two years ago, we found a variety called “red noodle” that is also very colorful.  Lianas are the only climbing bean we now plant.  We also plant some bush beans.  For the eat-fresh variety, we have come to like Contenders or, when we can find the seeds, Matador, both of which handle heat fairly well.  (Although not as well as the lianas.)

A couple of years ago, I was researching desert ecosystems for the roleplaying game I was running.  (I write the adventures just like I do stories, complete with research; this one was called “The Desert of Nightmares.”)  In a book  published by the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona, I came across a reference to tepary beans.  I was intrigued, because they apparently love high heat, and low water.  There was one section of our garden bed where anything planted there died, probably due to reflected heat and lack of shade.  Why not give these a try?

After some experimentation, I’ve settled on “blue speckled” as my favorites.  If you look in the second photo, the tepary beans are planted in the middle row (tomatoes to the left, lianas going up the net to the right).  Impressive, yes?  Even more impressive is that they haven’t been directly watered for a month…  All the water they’ve had is from a few tiny sprinkles.

Tepary beans aren’t meant to be eaten fresh, but they dry well and triple in volume after being soaked and cooked.  Since we regularly make both bean soup and humus, they will get used.  Added bonus: nitrogen fixing in the soil.  Added bonus: all that foliage shades our very sandy, heat-retaining soil, making for a cooler environment for the tomatoes.

Next on my list…  I’d like a more heat-resistant tomato, preferably one resistant to curly-top virus, which is common here, but not in enough other places for breeders to routinely breed resistant varieties.  Bonus would be a type similar to a roma that can be cooked as well as enjoyed fresh.

I’m also thinking about looking into some different squash, especially summer squash types, since even hardy green zucchini is feeling the heat.

But for this year, ping tura eggplant is my hero!  I must remember to reward it with a good dose of compost tea!

Teparies Down the Middle

9 Responses to “Adapting To the Heat”

  1. James Mendur Says:

    Ahh, but the other question is: do the rabbits like these new varieties as well, or have they bypassed them for other things? If I remember correctly, they like Tepary beans. What else do they do for? And how are you handling them this year?

  2. King Ben's Grandma Says:

    We had planned to put a garden in the front this year. Ben has claimed the back yard🙄 but when school stopped, so did safely doing anything in front. I will have, I should say “I hope to have” a good harvest of pecans this fall. My wild tree, that I leave completely alone except to talk to it, seems to be thriving.

  3. Harried Harry Says:

    Nice looking garden selection you have. I’m happy you’ve found something you both like to eat and grow or is that grow and eat? Almost all the plums are gone from my two trees; the birds enjoyed them very much. I picked some, but they go a long way for my diet, which is why we like the fruit. I harvested the peaches from my small tree. I estimate I have about 10 pounds. Very sweet with a red color inside. I took a few pics with my phone but trying to download them so I can post them is a challenge. The next item to harvest will be the pears but they are a long way from being ready.

    This is a great way to enjoy the day, since it was actually cooler than it has been. The dogs do not enjoy the growl of thunder so they have been staying very close all day long.

    • janelindskold Says:

      We had 3/10 of a inch of rain yesterday which, for us, is Epic! And first day in 17 we didn’t go over 100. Cats have mixed ideas about thunder. Roary (the kitten) has never heard it before and mostly looks puzzled.

  4. Jane Gnoll Says:

    I think of you and your garden every time it rains here. I only have a couple tomatoes in and I generally don’t water them. But it had been pretty hot and sunny (mid 90s is hot for us) and I gave in and watered them…then it rained pretty much every day for the rest of the week!

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