Grandpa Bill kept the peppers coming through central Oklahoma's blistering-hot summer by erecting a little shade directly over each plant.
He had put a "cage" around each plant, just like he does each year, for support of the heavy branches. As the temperatures climbed and then stayed high, he put an upside-down saucer, the kind that go underneath potted plants, on top of each cage. Since his pepper plants continued to produce, the strategy seems to have been a good one. (If anyone is curious, he mostly grew Big Bertha bell peppers.)
As the weather gets weirder and weirder, it's good to have ideas already in mind, and I thought that one was worth sharing.
He also said that this was the first year he's grown cantaloupes in a long time. The weather should have been great for melons - all that heat and drought should have made them extra-sweet. He said, though, that the melons didn't taste like anything at all. We've had that problem before with melons at the Plant-a-Row-for-the-Hungry garden, and I am beginning to see that bland melons are a more widespread problem than just here in the Southeast. Luckily, we found Schoon's Hardshell, which has worked out well for us.
As the seed catalogues began to arrive, he also pointed out that, back in the old days, you just went to the store and bought whatever seeds were there, and they always worked out just fine. Now that there are so many varieties to choose from, gardeners are more likely to end up with at least some seeds that aren't ideally suited to their yards.
As the catalogues pour in - mostly from the Northeastern U.S. and the Northwestern U.S. - it's easy to see how lack-of-garden-success could become a problem for new gardeners. For instance, I am guessing that the "bland melon" problem and prevalence of far-away seed sources that contain many tantalizingly-described varieties are somehow related.