Heat and drought pose growing challenges to gardeners  

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  • Jane Presby, owner of Dimond Hill Farm in Concord, trims some of the tomato plants in the greenhouse on Wednesday, August 3, 2022. Presby grows the plants in the greenhouse to control the temperture and the watering; too much watering causes splitage in the fruit but not enough and the plant will die quickly. The temperture on Thursday reached near triple digits. Presby, the present owner, was born and raised on the working family farm that has been in the family since 1827. The last seven years has seen big changes in the climate and she has had to adjust what she grows. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Jane Presby, owner of Dimond Hill Farm in Concord, trims some of the tomato plants in the greenhouse on Wednesday. The last seven years has seen big changes in the climate and she has had to adjust what she grows.

  • Jane Presby, owner of Dimond Hill Farm in Concord, picks a ripe eggplant in the greenhouse at the farm on Wednesday. The last seven years has seen big changes in the climate and she has had to adjust what she grows. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Jane Presby, owner of Dimond Hill Farm in Concord, walks into one of the greenhouses on the farm on Wednesday, August 3, 2022. Presby grows the tomato and eggplants in the greenhouse to control the temperture and the watering; too much watering causes splitage in the fruit but not enough and the plant will die quickly. The temperture on Thursday reached near triple digits. Presby, the present owner, was born and raised on the working family farm that has been in the family since 1827. The last seven years has seen big changes in the climate and she has had to adjust what she grows. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Jane Presby, owner of Dimond Hill Farm in Concord, trims some of the plants in the greenhouse on Wednesday. Presby grows the plants in the greenhouse to control the temperature and the watering. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Jane Presby, owner of Dimond Hill Farm in Concord, picks a ripe eggplant in the greenhouse at the farm on Wednesday, August 3, 2022. Presby grows the plants in the greenhouse to control the temperture and the watering; too much watering causes splitage in the fruit but not enough and the plant will die quickly. The temperture on Thursday reached near triple digits. Presby, the present owner, was born and raised on the working family farm that has been in the family since 1827. The last seven years has seen big changes in the climate and she has had to adjust what she grows. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Jane Presby, owner of Dimond Hill Farm in Concord, stands under a tree at the farm on Wednesday, August 3, 2022. The temperture on Thursday reached near triple digits. Presby, the present owner, was born and raised on the working family farm that has been in the family since 1827. The last seven years has seen big changes in the climate and she has had to adjust what she grows. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Jane Presby, owner of Dimond Hill Farm in Concord, drives around the farm in a four-wheeler on Wednesday, August 3, 2022. The temperture on Thursday reached near triple digits. Presby, the present owner, was born and raised on the working family farm that has been in the family since 1827. The last seven years has seen big changes in the climate and she has had to adjust what she grows. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Published: 8/5/2022 3:54:23 PM
Modified: 8/5/2022 3:51:17 PM

Tomatoes love the heat. Unfortunately, Jane Presby is not a tomato.

This week amid temperatures close to 100 degrees, she spent hours pruning and watering vegetable plants inside the greenhouses at Diamond Hill Farm in Concord.

“Hotter than hotter,” is how she described the temperatures inside the greenhouses.

“Tomato plants, peppers, Mediterranean type of vegetables love it,” Presby said. “They love the heat.”

But the weather this year hasn’t been just hot, it’s been dry, and often cool at night. That affects the type of plants she grows each year.

“Each year it seems to be less rain and hotter heat,” Presby said. “Sometimes it’s sporadic, like we’ve had really cold temperatures until later in the season. And now we have spike and drop. It might be 95 by the end of the day, but in the morning it’s 70, so you have to have the plant types that can endure that kind of climate range, because our range is much wider than it used to be.”

In this type of heat, the tomatoes need to be watered twice a day, but they can’t be over-watered or else the fruit will split.

Other crops outside can be waylaid in a matter of days by the intense temperatures. Most of the rest of the Northeast is experiencing a moderate drought or unusually dry conditions prompted by lower than average rainfall so far this year.

“I lost all my lettuce in three days last time we had the heat,” Presby said. “Leafy vegetables are just water, so when you don’t have any and the sun is burning them, the quality of the vegetables are awful and I won’t sell them.”

When it does rain, it can be too heavy to make a meaningful difference.

“When all of a sudden the heavens open up and you’ve got dry, dry soil – it’s not a gentle rain where plants and soil can absorb it as it comes,” she said. “It just floods everything and it drops underneath the plant because the soil is so dry and the plants’ roots are shallow and they can’t reach the water that keeps dropping below them.”

Presby has been a professional gardener for three decades and the last six or seven years have marked a difference in both high and low temperatures, she said.

“Every year is a little more of a challenge,” she said. “I’m not growing any of the seeds I grew 30 years ago – none of them – because they wouldn’t make it and they wouldn’t taste good.”

Forecasts call for scattered thunderstorms on Saturday followed by more hot and sunny weather on Sunday.

The heat waves across the country are largely due to the persistence of a zone of high pressure, or a heat dome, which has held in place much of the summer, according to the National Weather Service. Human-caused climate change is making these heat domes larger and more intense, the agency said.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.




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