Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


July 16, 2012

Plateau Gardening: People and plants suffer when temperatures reach record highs

CROSSVILLE — Statistics from the National Climatic Data Center for the first six months of 2012 as reported by USA Today July 9, tell us January through June of this year was the warmest ever for the contiguous United States (CONUS). That is a 118-year record (comparative climatic data for CONUS has been  tracked since 1895). Tennessee joined 27 other states and more than 100 cities with the warmest six-month start of any year on record. The sweltering temperatures during summer heat waves pose a serious health threat to gardeners and to  plants they cultivate.

The National Weather Service online report “Heat: A Major Killer” ( spells out the severe risks of extreme heat; lists the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) excessive heat watches, warnings and advisories; explains  the physical effects of too much heat; and also gives heat wave safety tips for both children and adults. That is where I learned “heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States” claiming “more lives than floods, lightening, tornadoes and hurricanes combined.”

Heat related illnesses develop when body temperature goes up due to rapid warming and the body cannot cool itself naturally or when too much fluid or salt is lost because of dehydration and/or sweating. Some water loss through perspiration is necessary for cooling but chemical imbalances can result with salt depletion. Heat problems are more severe in children because their bodies warm at a faster rate. In the adult population, when underlying physical conditions are equal, negative effects of high heat tend to increase with age.

Here are some safe practices for people in excessive heat situations: Even if windows are down, do not leave children, pets and/or elderly adults unattended in a vehicle during hot weather. Postpone or do not plan strenuous activities during the heat of the day. Stay where it is cooler whether outdoors in shade or in water or indoors with good airflow and/or air conditioning. If you don’t have AC or fans at home go to a library, to the movies or to a shopping mall that is air conditioned.

Don’t get too much sun. Wear protective sun lotion. Sunburn is skin damage caused by ultraviolet radiation in sunlight. In addition to redness and pain or blistering and fever in bad cases, sunburned skin can’t dissipate heat efficiently. Dress in lightweight, light-colored summer clothing and wear a hat or cap when outside

Though it isn’t a preventative for heat-related problems, gardeners and others doing outdoor work should also remember to apply insect repellent to avoid bites from mosquitoes, ticks and other bugs that hide in vegetation. I recommend scrubbing down well in a shower or bath right after coming indoors from activities like yard work, golfing or hiking. It cools you down and minimizes or eliminates problems from biting creatures like ticks and chiggers.

Avoid foods with lots of protein (meats) which can increase both metabolic heat and water loss. Take salt tablets only if advised to do so by a physician. Don’t drink alcoholic beverages and take caffeinated beverages in moderation. Do have plenty of water, non-alcoholic and decaffeinated drinks. Drink fluids even though you aren’t thirsty to prevent dehydration.

Individual plants are suited to and grow best within a certain range of high and low temperatures. In 1997, the American Horticulture Society produced the AHS Heat Zone Map and rated how well various plants stand up to high temperatures. That was the flipside for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plant Hardiness Zone Map and ratings which show plant species survival at low temperatures.

• • •

 Plateau Gardening is written by Master Gardeners for gardeners in Tennessee’s Upper Cumberland Region.  UT Extension Cumberland County at P.O. Box 483, Crossville, TN 38557 (931-484-6743) has answers horticulture questions, free publications and details on how to become a Master Gardener. Send email comments or yard & garden inquiries to Master Gardener Rae, 



Text Only
  • 8-8 counseling center-play with dolls.jpg Christian Counseling Center celebrating 12 years

    Help the Christian Counseling Center of Cumberland County (C5) celebrate 12 years of community service. Dine at Ruby Tuesday of Crossville Aug. 8, 9 or 10. Print the flyer from the center’s website,, and give it to the server.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • A Time 4 Paws collecting shoes to help Soles4Souls in fight against global poverty

    Attention anyone with a closet! Those shoes no longer wanted are desperately needed to fight the human tragedy of global poverty.

    July 24, 2014

  • Parkinson’s therapies help patients live big and loud

    Parkinson’s disease has famously affected the lives of celebrities like Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali. But whether a person with Parkinson’s is world famous or a next-door neighbor, new therapies are offering hope for a better quality of life.

    July 22, 2014

  • 8-5 CATS in Palace-Carole Jarboe Cullen - waterfall.jpg Local art event planned at CATS

    Plans are being made for an event sponsored by the CATS Gallery at the Palace Theatre, 72 South Main St., Crossville, Tuesday, Aug. 5, beginning at 6 p.m. There will be refreshments, music and an opportunity to view a performance painting by artist Chuck Jensen. A live auction of donated art pieces will begin at 7:30 p.m. with the opportunity to "Be a Cool Cat — Buy Local Art." There is free admission, but it is advisable to get a free ticket at the CATS Gallery in the middle section of the Crossville Mall, at the Palace Theatre or from any participating member of CATS. During the event, original art items including paintings, photographs, and jewelry will be offered for auction, such as this expressive waterfall painting by Carole Cullen.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Marriage licenses (Published July 23, 2014)

    July 22, 2014

  • fair park.jpg Heritage demonstrators welcome

    Most of Americans today never stop to think how different our lives would have been several hundred years ago. How many times a day do we wash our hands, and do we ever realize when we take those hot showers and lather up, the long all-day process our ancestors had to go through just to make a bar of soap? Not to mention packing water to the house and heating it up over a wood fire just to have a bath and wash clothes. Times are changing faster than ever.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • pleasant hill ramblings.jpg Mathes restores a bit of Pleasant Hill's history

    Miss Alice Adshead, RN, created a “wilderness trail” through the woods just down the hill from Uplands Sanatorium, the first hospital in Cumberland County once located on Main St. in Pleasant Hill.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • plateau gardening-hydrangeas5117.jpg Prune flowering shrubs: now or wait until February?

    Experts say, “Don’t prune woody-stemmed plants (shrubs, trees and some types of vines) after mid-August.” Do pay close attention to that advice. The purpose of this late-season pruning prohibition is to keep plants healthy.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • IMG_1850.jpg Burgess Falls offers a big payoff for a short hike

    At Burgess Falls, you can be out of your car and taking in the breathtaking view of the Falling Water River as it falls 136 feet in the third and final drop of the river with just a short walk through the woods.
    But even though the state park is close to civilization, this natural wonder retains its wild and scenic reputation.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo 19 Links

  • 8-2 colonial dames.jpg Colonial Dames honors members with luncheon

    The John McKnitt Chapter Colonial Dames 17th Century held its May meeting at the home of Joyce Ernst. Those present were Sherry Sneed, Jessie Watts, Dot Brodhag, Kandy B. Smith, Lynn Constan, Donna Hamilton, Margaret Markum, Lana Davis, Sara Tripiciano, Jane Tavernier, Joyce Ernst, Kathy Wilson, Charlotte Reynolds, and Cheryl Chrobot. President Lana Davis welcomed the ladies and followed with the opening ritual.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo