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My Fried Garden

What does a garden look like in a drought? Well, I have a few pictures for you. The main reason you haven’t heard from me since our earth-sheltered house was put it is that I have been tired and lethargic thanks to the weather.

Our first summer here last year, we were spoiled. Although the humidity was stifling, temperatures usually didn’t climb above ninety (Fahrenheit). In addition, we had a good rain at least once a week most weeks; I only had to water the garden by hand four times when we didn’t have rain for two weeks running. But then a few days later it would rain again.

As I write these words it is August 9, and in the past month we have only had a few sprinkles one day. And as is typical when this area goes without rain for a month in the summer, the temperatures have been soaring into the upper 90’s and lower 100’s.

Besides just being beaten down by the weather in general, I have had to work hard out in it to try to keep my garden and newly planted trees (as of this past March) alive.

Not having running water, while forcing me to stay physically fit, has been a bear as I have to fill jugs of water to dump over whatever needs water.

Of course, it isn’t really the fault of not having running water. The reason I can show how what a garden looks like in a drought is that I waited too long to start watering, and – on purpose – have not been watering many of the plants as much as they need.

The natives are getting dried up

To prove that the past month has been beastly hot, here are photos of a couple of trees that had green leaves a month ago.

dyingtree1 dyingtree2

Many of the weeds are even withering under the heat of the merciless sun. If the trees and weeds can’t take it, you know it’s got to be bad. Here is a patch of brown grass:


Here is a random weed:


Look how wilted it is.

My sad garden

Now to the garden. I’ve never had a New Zealand spinach patch dry up on me. Then again, when we were in Plano it received regular drip irrigation and was also growing in clay soil that holds onto moisture.

Here is a plant that has completely dried up, despite my desperate attempts to save it (and the other victims):


Some of the plants are struggling through, but they look sickly nonetheless:


I ripped out most of my raspberry patch because I was sick and tired of watering it. Before you give a cry of dismay, I have discovered that you need probably a half acre of raspberry canes in order to be able to produce enough fruit to have even a half cup all at once. If a particular plant isn’t going to make a dent in our food budget – which the raspberries obviously are not – I am not going to kill myself to keep it alive.

I was going to eliminate the entire patch, but found that the two original clusters were well-established (translated: they were nearly impossible to pull out of the ground). Not surprisingly these canes had the most green and fruits that weren’t simply drying up as they ripened. So I decided to have mercy, and let these clusters live. It is nice to be able to grab a couple of ripe raspberries as I’m walking through the garden.

UPDATE UPDATE: Two days after writing this post, the canes I thought looked healthy were for done for. Even though I had watered them well that day. So no more raspberry patch.

The following photo gives you some idea as to how the drought had affected the raspberries, which are supposed to be one of the easiest fruit plants to grow.


By the way, in case you read my previous post about using raspberry leaf tea as a supplement, I discovered it’s a lot easier and more palatable to blend an eggshell in with a smoothie than to drink the tea. An eggshell does not have vitamin C, however, so yes, I am having to take more of that supplement.

This is the blueberry that first told me that I wasn’t watering the blueberry bushes enough:


Poor thing.

I forgot to photo the sweet potatoes, but several of those plants have dried-up leaves. It’ll be interesting to compare this year’s harvest with last.

Speaking of crops that are supposed to love the heat, check out these semi-dead leaves on this okra:

dryingokra dryingokra2

Of course, okra is supposed to love the heat and be the father of all drought-tolerant crops, so I ignored it until the leaves started curling up.

Even though I water the melon and cucumber plants three times a day, they still wilt badly starting around noon.


And the heat has been literally frying my baby cucumbers. Look:


The mother of all drought-tolerant crops, the red malabar spinach, has even started to dry up! Blah. So much for summer greens.

The zinnias lasted for a long time without water. But they recently began to dry up. (With all the other things I’ve had to water, I refused to water the zinnias.) Here’s one example:


One good thing: I’ve already had a lot of zinnia flowers go to seed, so even if they die now I will still get a bumper crop (can you say that about flowers?) up next year. I also learned that zinnias are truly drought tolerant! They went for three weeks in the hot sun in temps between 97 and 104 in sandy soil (which does not hold water) before they started looking sad.

Now you might be wondering: how have we been managing all that watering? Did we save up so much in our rain tanks?

Ah, but that’s a topic for the next blog post.

The next question: are we giving up on gardening? Nope. We have discovered an irrigation solution that will reduce the water used for irrigation and practically eliminate any work on our part. Another blog post. 😉

See you then! In the meantime, stay cool. And trust me: learn vicariously from my experience. Don’t try your own experiment to discover what a garden looks like during a drought. 😉

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