Thirty seconds of water every other day. That’s what every vegetable plant in my garden was getting for the last three weeks. The shallow well I use for the vegetable garden was mostly gone. By alternating days and severely limiting the amount of water each plant got, I was able to coax the well to produce a small stream of water — just enough to keep most of the vegetables from surrendering to the record heat (numerous 100+ degree days in a row, multiple weeks) and unrelenting drought. Every watering day was a race to see how many plants I could water before the stream emerging from the hose began to thin and cough.
Finally this past weekend — the miracle that every drought-plagued gardener prays for — rain! Real rain. Not the ten-second showers that only wet the tops of the canopy trees. This was two days of off-and-on bona fide, blessed rain. All told, we got 2.13 inches. Yes, so much water so fast has caused some of the tomatoes to split as the skins are unable to stretch fast enough to accommodate swelling fruits. But that’s not a big problem. The best strategy is to pick the splitters before they’re fully vine ripe and allow them to finish reddening on the kitchen counter.
The addition of soil-reviving moisture throughout the garden has caused the veggies that were limping along to surge into high gear. Productivity of the tomato plants especially is verging on the ridiculous. My fifteen plants (I pulled out a dying Purple Russian over a month ago) are over a foot taller than my seven-foot trellises, and fruit production does not seem to be slowing appreciably. Here’s a shot of a part of the garden to show you what I mean:
That’s a wall of tomatoes in the back. In front are some ripening Carmen (Italian bull) peppers surrounded by basils and marigolds. As you can see, it’s a party out there.
And the Fortex pole beans? Have mercy! They topped their six-foot trellis over a month ago. Now they’ve fully grown down the other side, and they’re starting back up again. That’s over 12 feet of bean vine, and I planted a lot of beans. Here’s a shot of the bean wall I took this morning:
The zucchinis all surrendered to the heat and squash vine borers. The Honey Bear acorn winter squashes are limping along. After we harvested the first four mature fruits, they flowered again and produced two more. It’s a race to see whether these fruits will be able to fully mature before the vines expire.
But the other member of the cucurbit family I’m growing this year is still hanging tough. These are the late-sown Diva cucumbers. During the height of the heat wave and drought, I wasn’t able to give them enough water to help them form fully perfect fruits. But the rain has changed that. Fruits are lengthening fast, and the vines are still actively growing. What a surprise they’ve been. Here’s a shot from this morning:
And not to be outdone are the sunflowers. I bought the packets locally and promptly lost the names after I sowed the seeds. But you’ve got to admit they’re looking mighty impressive:
You need a close-up to fully appreciate these lovely flowers:
And finally, the totals for today’s harvest. In that basket at the top of this post were 35 Sweet Treats cherry tomatoes, 20 Viva Italia plum tomatoes, 9 small slicing tomatoes (a mix of Ferline and Italian Goliath), 4 big slicing tomatoes (Big Beefs and Early Goliaths), 9 beans (7 Jade bush beans and 2 Fortex pole beans), and 1 Apple sweet pepper.
I’m off to make and freeze tomato sauce, so that we can taste a bit of summer’s bounty when winter’s chill frosts the windows. Here’s hoping the rains will be more frequent, now that they’ve found us again.