Ever since moving to Texas from Missouri in the Fall of 1989, I've had a desire to grow things. It was a hobby encouraged by my dad at a very young age. We had a small plot--about 25 x 25. We worked manure into the soil every spring and things just grew. When the plants started to get a little tired by midsummer, they'd get a boost with compost tea or manure tea. We had so many vegetables that my parents began canning.
When Lee and I moved to Houston, the summer after getting married, I spent a great deal of money on putting together a raised bed. The Piney woods made the native soil far too acidic to garden. Long, story short---I failed miserably. Extreme heat and humidity made for diseased and pest ridden plants. I was able to grow some very healthy weeds though.
We moved to the Austin area in December of '92. Because I had a sweet baby Thomas to tend to, my need to garden was absent. I was still stinging from years of failure in Houston. Along came Pearl and then James. Still no garden, and I was just fine with that . In August of 2001, we moved to where we now live. Four acres, mostly pasture, but plenty of room for me to try my hand at gardening again.
The weather seemed a little less predictable here, than in Houston, but drier. No more mold and fungus and blight to deal with. Mother nature just laughed at me. I have amended soil, mulched, composted, used chemicals, gone organic, watered by hand, used the sprinkler system, on and on. I have done everything right. What has become painfully clear to me, is that unless it rains on a regular basis, my garden will not do well. My well water is just too hard for most everything I grow. The temperatures have also become an issue. On Monday, we will have had 50 days of 100+* heat since early May. It has become the new normal. It's not even shocking anymore. We are also nearly 30 inches behind in 'average' rainfall since our drought began in September 2007.
This summer I have gotten little/no fruit or veggies out of my garden, despite much tender loving care. Some plants have simply been pulled up because I was just watering greenery. Now things are so shocked by the drought and continued heat, they've just given up. So have I. I was out this morning pulling weeds, watermelon, and flowers.
So far my harvest or expected harvest based on the health of the plant is:
1 spaghetti squash
a dozen tomatoes
no acorn squash
half dozen potatoes
2 dozen peas (not enough for one meal)
1 bell pepper
The things that are doing well:
Weeds, lot of weeds.
Based on the many years that I've been at this, and the success I've had, it may be time to hang up the summer garden for me. It seems that the weather pattern for the Edwards plateau during the summer is changing. Or maybe it was this way all along, and rain during the summer with milder temperatures was just a fluke.
Instead of joy I feel defeat. I can't imagine growing food for a living. The stakes are far higher than any game in Vegas. Thank goodness for farmers that stick it out. For me, I'm just about to be a 'winter only' gardener. I have far better success. Did I just say that outloud? Knock on wood!
PS...the beautiful watermelon at the top was all squishy inside and never turned pink. Overwatering? Doesn't matter, we didn't get to eat it or any of its brothers or sisters.