Crispy and crunchy and dry as the Sahara

It’s amazing how fast things can change. A month ago my garden and all my flowers were looking absolutely wonderful: Full, green and blooming like mad.

I had high hopes for the vegetable garden as thoughts of late nights up canning and freezing the bounty left me a little bit anxious about getting it all done in time and at the peak of freshness and ripeness.

I shouldn’t have worried. A summer of miserably hot, abnormally dry weather took care of that for me. Our area, like most of the Midwest, is in an extreme drought and we haven’t had rain since the end of April. Weeks of 100+ temperatures have been torture to all living beings, plant and animal.

My well has run dry twice and we’ve had to start ordering deliveries of water just to keep the livestock alive and our bodies clean.

I had such high hopes and the whole garden started out beautifully. It was the first year I started EVERYTHING from seed, nothing was transplanted. I nurtured all those baby plants in my basement under grow lights when there was still frost on the ground and ice on the creek. It’s heartbreaking.

There hasn’t been any extra water for the garden, unfortunately, so most of it has shriveled up and given up the ghost. Only my Swiss chard, tomatoes, peppers, beets and sweet potatoes remain alive and I’ve been doling out pathetic amounts of water to them just to keep them going. All the squash, cucumbers, carrots, melons, beans and zucchini are dead with no hope of revival. It makes me very sad and I feel a deep, cringing stab to my gut when I go to the garden and see the destruction. I’ve lost at least one cherry tree and possibly a peach tree and most likely one of my favorite ornamental trees. The willows I planted this spring are being kept alive on a prayer and leftover water from canning or changing the rabbits’ waterers.

The tomatoes, despite the heat and drought, have been producing nonstop. I have cans and cans and cans of tomato sauce, pickled cherry tomatoes and stewed tomatoes. It takes 50# of tomatoes to make 7 quarts of tomato sauce, and I have made 16 quarts of sauce. Did you know it takes 6+ hours to cook down that 50# of tomatoes to the right saucy consistency? It’s a long process, but one well-worth the effort.

I keep hoping and praying and dancing naked under the light of the full moon that we get some rain soon. My pastures are crunchy, the well is dry and all the trees are suffering. The summer crop has failed, despite my efforts, and I just want to get out there and till it all under so I don’t have to look at my failure every time I walk out the door.

But I can’t. It would be kind of like tilling a concrete parking lot at this point. Ugh.

I’d like to try to get a fall crop in since my summer crop has failed. Beets, turnips, broccoli, brussels sprouts and more spinach are high on my list. If we get some rain. I won’t waste my time if the ground is still concrete-hard when fall planting time rolls around again.

I’m hoping other people have had better luck keeping their gardens alive in this drought and heat.


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