Tuesday, July 13, 2010

panting in the heat

insert picture I don't have here

I am bereft. My camera battery has died and I left the charger in Houston. Just when I was trying to get a picture of the crop duster flying low over the cotton fields. Back and forth, back and forth. These two weeks of rain (10” - 16”) we had has raised concerns of boll weevils. They also applied some sort of plant growth regulator to keep the cotton from growing too fast. Who knew growing things was so complicated?

Dirt, seed, water, sun. That's all it takes, right?

I'm learning a lot living out in this agricultural community. My own food garden has been left to it's own devices for now, it's just too hot to be out and I don't get up early enough. Two weeks of rain and being in the city for the second week of rain plus an invasion of stink bugs has left my tomatoes in ruins, rotting on the stems.

insert another picture I don't have here

I planted everything too close together. The first two rows of green beans are a total tangle, so thick it's almost impossible to delve into them to find the beans. The second two rows planted later, a different variety, bloom and put on baby beans that then fall off. I've gotten only a dozen or so beans off those. Meanwhile, the first two rows are covered with little beans but they don't seem to be getting any bigger. The squash I pulled up after the squash vine borers got to them. My three beautiful cantaloupes, getting close to ripening before we left for our week in the city, were ravaged when we got back. One was missing altogether, the second was broken open and half eaten and the third looked whole but when I picked it up, ants had invaded it and came rushing out at me! The banana peppers are like the hand mill cranking out salt and I don't know the magic word to get it to stop. This growing food business is harder than it looks.

I've sort of lost my enthusiasm for it now that it's so hot and I'm trying to decide if I should just pull it all out, wait til it's time for a fall garden to start over. Obviously, the garden needs to be a bit bigger and I need to read up a bit.

About the only chore that gets done outside now is mowing and it's never neat and tidy even with a brand new riding mower. We bought a used one last summer hoping it would last through this summer. Ah, foolish wishes. This spring it needed more in repairs than we originally paid for it. And here, mid-summer, it refuses to work again. Clearly our judgement needs some work when it comes to riding mowers. Today we acquired a brand new mower. I don't get it. It did the same half assed job as the old one.

Regardless, the drone of mowers is the summer song and the dog days approach.


  1. The business of gardening really is hit or miss to me. Out garden (as you have seen) is out of control. We'll see how much produce we actually get out of it.

    Dr. M mostly mows around here - small yard & a push mower. It does pretty well, but we were afraid to get a used one so we bought a cheap(ish) new one. I can even start it myself! Our problem is that our yard is so lumpy (moles?) - it's kind of jarring to mow, even with the push mower.

    I know it's probably in vain, but I'll wish you cooler temps!

  2. Sorry about the camera but you had me giggling at the "insert yet another pic I don't have here" line - cute!

    And I don't garden - wish I could, but nope - I would kill it all off. :)

    Hope it cools off for you. ~SkippyMom~

  3. What an experience. It must be awful when the pests ruin plant produce painstakingly grown.

  4. Over here in London we think we it's hot and whine because we have to water the garden every couple of days! We know nothing! My veg patch is thriving, though still too cool for the multitude of bugs you have to contend with.

  5. I'm afraid we would be garden-less if it weren't for Don. How sad about your melons!

    Yes, agriculture and gardening is very complicated. Thankfully Don doesn't work in the summer. He pinches off Japanese beetles and caterpillars so we have an organic garden.

  6. Gardening takes a lot of work and you are hostage to the weather and all the garden pests! We have been so hot here and DRY!!! My tomatoes haven't even flowered yet!!!! I can confidently say that we will have NO tomatoes this year. Our growing season is just not long enough. Sigh! Maybe next year!
    Good luck with yours

  7. Gardens are vulnerable to so many variables. You are fortunate to have the option of a Fall garden, however.

    It has been wicked hot up here in the northeast too.

  8. We used to have a fairly extensive garden...and exceptionally well fed neighborhood squirrels. There is a lot to it, isn't there? It isn't just "throw seeds at dirt, hope it rains enough." Soil composition, for instance, plays a big part of it.

    I read your title as "painting in the heat" and kept waiting for a Tom Sawyer-type tale, where you suckered the local kids into painting a fence.

    One more thing, I don't know if you watch The Colbert Report or not (satire, comedy, news program) but he had a guest a couple of weeks back who had turned his Brooklyn backyard into a farm for a year. I read his piece in the NYT about it too, and his discovery? Farming is hard, dirty, prone to injury and not more than a little bit disgusting when you add raising animals to the mix.

    Gardening can be fun, of course, but I've never been any good at it. If I had to feed myself solely with my own labor? Oh dear, it wouldn't bode well for my survival.

    I hope you get a nice, cool-front coming through, to give you a bit of relief. That and a new battery for your trusty camera.

  9. Your post is exactly why I never understand when someone says they love summer ... heat, bugs, bad weather, heat, heat, sweat, humidity, heat.

    I'm sorry about your garden, especially the tomatoes. I plant a small garden, 12 tomato plants, some lettuce, eggplant, peppers. So far, so good ...

  10. The garden will do what it wants, no matter your attentions. That is the garden rule. The joy is in the doing of it.

    Even if it has not gone as you planned it, the creatures have had a feast. See, there is always a bright side to everything.

  11. Ellen, I feel your pain! Our tomatoes aren't as pretty as I'd like them to be, but they do taste good. Now, however, our figs are ripening & we are overloaded with them. Our friends will enjoy the excess.

  12. Oh how sad, all that work for nothing. But gardening's like that, you need a lot of patience, elbow grease and know-how. And even then it doesn't always work, other creatures might see the results of your efforts as their larder.

  13. I've had the same problems with gardens. I think I'll take a class at some point. The house we're in now would only have container gardening. I was at the nursery this morning but only come home with house plants. it's too hot outside to think about my containers.

  14. Thanks so much for the visit and even more for the gracious comment. Here's hoping you'll become a follower and somehow my blog could be a blessing to you and at the same time...glorify Him

  15. It is always more complicated then it first appears when we attempt to tame the earth ;).

  16. Farmer Ellen, the thing I like best about NOT having a garden is that everyone else does and they give their overproduction away- I get the best of both worlds and no ants in my cantalope!
    I inserted photos of puppies instead of what was supposed to be there- because with puppies you just can't go wrong...
    My folks used to stand out in the field and watch the crop dusters around Mission Texas- and breathe the poison that they dumped- not sure if that contributed to their illness and deaths but I always blame them.
    That camera thing has happened to me so many times- how very disappointing! You covered well, however- Nice job!

  17. I did exactly the same, left my camera charger at home whilst in Greece. Duh!!

  18. I do not garden, though I once did. Now I know that Del Monte and Freshlike actually sell the same things, without the (yechh!) bugs. Who knew? ;-)

  19. I, too, have a few frustrations with the garden. The vining tomatoes are planted too closely together and have not set properly. We also have somewhat of a drought here and it is a little tedious using so much water to keep the garden viable. We will survive.

  20. I love that last line so much. Oh yeah.

    Growing food is hard! Remember that Wendell Barry line about how in America by the age of 12 everyone knows how to makes babies, but even by age 30, hardly anyone can grow a potato. Scary!!

    I miss the pictures but love your inserts. I look forward to the time when your camera and battery are reunited.


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