Shesh, you can tell that summer is here in South Florida. It has been kind of warm out. There has not been a lot of rain for the past few days, but it has been very humid. It has been so humid that sweating is a really ineffective way of cooling down since the sweat does not evaporate and basically just rolls off of your body in buckets.
It is very important to dress properly to work outside in your yard and garden during Florida’s torrid summers. If you look at the professionals who spend a lot of time working outdoors (i.e. fishermen, lawn care crews, linesmen, surveyors, road workers, roofers, and so on) they tend to wear long sleeved shirts, long pants, wide floppy hats or doo-rags and sun glasses. For the weekend warrior, I suggest white cotton shirts. Avoid the type with a lot of screen printing on them – like NASCAR shirts. If the screen print is over a wide area front and back, the ink printing tends to hold in the heat and not allow sweat to evaporate from your body. Dark colored clothing tends to attract solar radiation and makes the wearer hotter. I usually wear worn-out dock shoes and light-colored cargo shorts with a plain white cotton Beefy-T. The thicker material in these shirts helps to wick away perspiration really well. Years ago I bought a floppy khaki canvas boonie-type safari hat on a trip to Busch Gardens Tampa. As beat up, sweaty and dirty as that hat gets, it is my most favorite for yard and garden work. In fact, that is the hat that you see me wearing in my FloridaGardener.com head-shot picture.
Sometimes you may want to wear sunscreen to protect exposed skin that burns easily. If biting insects bother you, be sure to use insect repellant. Sun glasses are important to protect your eyes from being damaged by excessive solar radiation. They also help to protect them from projectiles if you are using lawn equipment like a power string trimmer.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate -- water is the best. Avoid alcohol and drinks with caffeine as these will dehydrate you (alcohol and caffeine tend to make you pee more often than plain water does). Carry a clean soft rag to wipe away perspiration on occasion. Try to work in the shade when possible and try to avoid doing yard work during the hottest time of the day.
I have been thinking about putting in some banana plants. Nice big ones for shade and, hopefully, fruit. I have not grown bananas in a few years, but I remember that they require regular irrigation and rich, well draining soil. I found and ordered two plants from www.TopTropicals.com. The first banana plant that I decided to order was Musa - Banana Ice Cream (Blue Java). According to www.TopTropicals.com, this “cultivar grows 10-15 ft tall. Produces stout, straight fruit, 5-7 inches long and up to 2 inches wide on bunches weighing 40-60 lbs. The skin of the fruits is bluish with silvery bloom when young, pale-yellow when ripe. Flesh is white and sweet with vanilla-like flavor. Eaten raw or cooked.”
After fussing around a bit more I also decided to order the Musa - Banana Hua Moa. According to www.TopTropicals.com, “this Tall banana cultivar from Hawaii, grows to 10-15 ft tall. Produces small to medium bunches of very plump, roundish fruits with golden-yellow skin and pinkish yellow-orange flesh. Very sweet flavor. May be eaten fresh or cooked.” The reason why I decided to go with the Hua Moa is that it is said to be one of the best fruits for cooking. We love Tostones (Fried Plantains) with our mango salsa topped tilapia, so I thought this would be a good banana to have for those times when we want to make our own plantain recipes.
Stay Cool and Happy Gardening!