Extreme Gardening in Extreme Weather Conditions
by Peggy Browning
I just want to grow something using civil methods.
I am not an athlete. I do not participate in extreme sports of any kind; I don’t even watch them on TV. I like gentle pursuits like gardening, sewing, or lying on the couch eating potato chips while watching other people garden or sew on TV.
But for the last two years I’ve found myself engaged in the extremes. I am speaking of extreme gardening.
I like to plant flowers. I like to plant tomato vines and squash seeds. I like soaking okra seeds and planting when they burst open, exposing the little plant inside.
I enjoy watching them grow, bloom, and produce some type of harvest: flowers or tomatoes or big yellow straight-neck squash.
I like everything about it. I like digging in the dirt, planting the seeds, waiting for the seedlings to emerge, checking on them every day, and watching them grow into something beautiful.
I like the way tomato plants smell. I like the big blooms on squash plants. I like when the okra pods are too tough to use and I just let them stay on the stalk to dry and produce more seeds.
But this extreme gardening BS is wearing on my nerves. All I want is just a little happiness derived from watching stuff grow. I don’t want to have to exert great amounts of effort or emotion to make that happen.
Last year, I gardened in a drought. It was a record-breaking drought. We were restricted from any and all outside watering.
No watering was allowed during the drought.
If you were caught using a water hose, you were promptly given a citation and a fine. Plus you were chastised by your neighbors.
I planted squash, tomatoes, and sunflowers in my front flowerbed anyway.
I managed to grow mammoth sunflowers by recycling my bath water.
I plugged up my tub when I showered and carried my recycled water to the flowerbed to water my tiny, thirsty plants. And I harvested a few squash, a tomato or two, and giant Mammoth sunflower heads to feed the birds.
Extreme drought…water-rationing drought…effluent water recycling kind of drought…a drought that started five years ago (October 2010) and continued until May 4 of this year.
May 4 is when the rain started. And, as I write this on May 25, the rain hasn’t stopped yet.
And I do thank the Heavens Above for this magnificent rain. The lakes and reservoirs that provide our drinking water are 100% full again. The water is running over the spillways. The rivers and creeks are out of their banks and flooding roads and residential areas as well as fields and pastures. (I’m not going to mention the damage done to crops and homes or lives. That’s another serious subject for a blog…)
Now I’m doing extreme gardening in a flood. At first my beans, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, spinach, potatoes, herbs, Swiss chard and whatnot sucked up the rain and thrived from the moisture. It was great. It was so much fun to see their wet leaves each morning.
But now it has rained so much that there’s water standing in the garden because there’s no way it can soak in to the already saturated soil. The tomatoes look kind of fungus-y. The bean plants are turning yellow. The rosemary is under water. There’s several types of mushrooms growing even though I didn’t plant mushrooms.
Now I’m bailing water OUT of my garden instead of carrying water to it. It looks like I’m doing hydroponic gardening.
Seasons come and go. Rain does too. I complain through each cycle. That’s what extreme gardening is all about.
(But to all you folks who were praying for rain…you can stop now. Your “Pray for Rain” yard signs are clogging the street drains.)