Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Gardening Through the Drought

Bee Balm in bloom
   News tonight announces the "driest spring on record"- already summer-like conditions. Every part of our little farm homestead strains under the pressure and heat. The garden, well, it is really suffering. Just this week green bean bushes are crisping despite our determined watering program. They are not the first fatalities; they won't be the last.
   Our approach to drought gardening so far has been "do what you can with what you still have". Many crops we have been successful with in the past ..well..we have just had to accept their absence. Lettuce/leaf crops were the first to go- first bitter, then bolted. All squash/gourd type crops are gone- scorched and dead. The corn field is slightly taller than I am and starting to look rather puny and the okra plants are insanely small and currently unproductive.
   For the crops that remain (tomato, peppers, beans) have become our concentrated focus. Soak-er hoses are in place under the tomatoes to keep them from cracking and the pepper/bean plot is being maintained by sprinkler system. Since our area is not 'water restricted' we water twice a day rotating plot areas. All plots are receiving a fresh coat of mulch (especially in the pathway) and a healthy dose of compost tea. Okra and corn become an afterthought- they will most likely become feed for the livestock.
   The herb garden is still alive, though the plants are very small and many have gone to bloom already- despite our "pinching out" regularly. In doors we try to make up for lacking leafy greens with sprouts and micro greens; jars and flats on the kitchen bench tended carefully indoors (radish, lettuce, kale, cole sprouts, and herb sprouts).
   By the grace of God, our garden last fall was prolific and bountiful- so we use from the freezer daily, praying for graceful rain to come soon.  Despite the weather, we are blessed abundantly and by God's wisdom have stored away for such a time as this. As we work to garden through this drought, other things burden our minds- water. Tomorrow we share some ways we are trying to guard our water usage in this trying dry season.

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