Saturday, July 21, 2012

In spite of the drought and heat...

Things are still growing and producing. I can think of 5 points that are to my garden advantage (aka-why everything isn't dead yet).

1. A high water table- the garden is next to a pond and water regularly sits high in this area even though the ground has been raised several feet above the pond.
2. A thick layer of straw before the heat and drought hit.
3. My litter container watering system.
4. Old soil. My house was built in 1851. It isn't the kind of crap found in younger subdivisions. Plus, the soil I've added is entirely compost with tons of organic matter.
5. French or biointensive planting methods (planting densely like nature does)

I'm hearing and seeing poor garden reports, unless people are watering a ton, which I am not and that got me thinking- Why is my garden doing ok while others are not?

In the last week of May I mulched the beds with lots of straw and began testing a new water-saving method. These are the kitty-litter containers each with 2 pin holes poked in the bottom. I fill them up, leaving the lids on, but unscrewing them enough to release the pressure and let them slowly drip water into the surrounding soil. I honestly haven't filled them very often- to my surprise. This makes me think the straw is helping a lot. I also plant very closely which eliminates sun hitting soil and thus cutting back on evaporation. What moisture does go upwards runs into leaves and condenses on the plants where it can either be taken into the pores of the plant or drip back down to the ground. 

I started keeping records of the weight (in pounds) of produce I am collecting. I'm not good at keeping track of things (thus the blog to help me). So far so good. I harvested my first Pony Yellow Watermelon today. 
Looking forward to eating it for lunch.
I like watermelon, but have a small fridge and never want to eat THAT much melon at a time. These are the perfect size for us and because there are more coming in the garden we can have them in stages.

Pony Yellow Watermelon

The smaller watermelon probably ended up being a good choice for the drought and heat- not that I planned it for that, but require less water to grow to maturity. 

Shah Tomatoes (white tomatoes) 

The tomatoes are still producing. A few lower leaves are turning yellow and I've had some sun scald on my Dr Wyches, but there looks to be plenty of fruit now and to come. I have seen some blossom drop. 

Banana Peppers are still producing

Patisson Strie Malange: Scallop Squash

The flowers are still blooming and I haven't watered them a lick. Here are Verbena and Yellow Cosmos.

Harvest from earlier in the week:

People tend to think because they kill something they don't have a green thumb. Of course I don't photo and post about all of the stuff I kill. That would be ugly, but maybe it would make some people feel better. Here are a few of the things that haven't been so successful this year:

1. I've planted beans probably 4 or 5 times and they have either not germinated or died shortly after.
2. A very small and early cilantro crop with no successful replantings
3. Planted cucumbers twice and have had to baby the surviving plants along. They are just now forming flowers and I don't even know if I will get any decent tasting (non-bitter) fruits.

4. No blooms: Chili Peppers

Other suffering plants in my care: This < 6yr old Dogwood tree and the hostas below it.

Even the native plants are drooping: here are some Brown Eyed Susans

But some are still flowering, albeit smaller flowers: Sweet Coneflower
Notice the leaves are a little curled.

So, what am I doing with whatever is being harvested? Here are some recent eats:
Mixed mater, Illinois cheeses, onion, pepper and herb pizza

A kick ass bruchetta for breakfast: Brown Sugar Tomatoes, Illinois cheese, olive oil, S & P

Another bruchetta topping with Dr Wyches tomatoes

Spring Rolls with mint, cilantro, carrot and rice noodles
I'm still harvesting a few carrots

Canned tomatoes, salsa and peach jam.

I am sick and tired of the heat and drought regardless. I've never run the AC this much in my life and the drooping plants are depressing me, but it isn't a total loss either. Unfortunately, the grass (damned bermuda) is still alive, but the Crepe's are coming into full bloom with no signs of distress. 

And the garden doesn't look all that bad.
The kale, broccoli, cabbage and chard go unwatered and are still perky.

And that's gardening folks. Plant a diversity of plants so you will always have some successes. 


estork said...

1) I love that you were generous in sharing your failures.
2) I LOVE that you mentioned 'Illinois' cheese not once, but twice. Oh, my precious!
3) I just like getting updates from 'back home.' Thanks for sharing!!

Laura said...

Thanks Emily! I appreciate your comments. My Illinois cheese is from Ropp Farm in Normal, but I buy it at Eckert's Country Store in Belleville.