The soggy summer of 2013
It’s July 18, 2013 and I’ve yet to enjoy the first tomato from the garden, or bean, or cucumber. This time last year I had two pressure cookers humming, two food dehydrators desiccating tomato slices. I was happy, blissfully happy while putting up food for my family. Not to be this year my friends. The weather pattern has shifted. We’re in a rainforest this year (not complaining after so many years of drought). It’s not the rain that is worrisome. I can live with the rain; it is the complete lack of sunshine. In fact, July 16 and 17 were the first full-sun days since May.
I had already told Farmer Billy we needed to give up. Stop planting seeds because we were just wasting our time. Kelle’s brought seedlings over (they drowned the next day following a rain storm), I’ve planted bean seeds. She’s planted corn; all for naught. Yesterday, Billy tilled up the chicken lot. The raccoons got his chickens after a summer storm blew the door open in the middle of the night. Once they gained access they returned every night, despite reinforcing the pen, the coons systematically murdered all but seven of his chickens.
It has not been a good year for farming.
But yesterday, with a never-give-up farming spirit, Billy and I planted beans in the chicken lot. I told him, begged him really, to “lay a tarp over the dirt in case it storms tonight.”
“They’re not calling for much. Says if it rains it’ll just be a few drops.”
It rained an inch and a half last night my friends.
An inch and a half!
And with that, I have declared war on Mother Nature. I have pulled out what I call the lettuce grower. A cold frame I used this February that grew Botanical Interests lettuce that was so beautiful I didn’t want to cut them.
I’ve pulled up the tomatoes. (they have zero blooms anyway) and I erected the cold frame making tiny teepee structures for the cukes to climb upon. I replanted beans, believing that when the rains come (and they will come) the structure will keep the ground relatively dry. And because the sun may or may not shine, I’ve also snaked the Christmas Tree lights through the structure.
Yes, my back porch would make Granny Clampitt proud. Regardless of what it looks like, I’ll have some beans and fresh cucumbers or die trying. For newbie gardeners, be not distressed. This just isn’t a good year for growing in most of the South East.
Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes. In 2012 she released Stress-Free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. 2014 will see the release Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. She is currently working on her first novel. She would love to hear from you. Visit her at http://www.reneawinchester.com