The Growing Environment has Changed, or is it Me?

Pumpkins in the Cucumber box, what next?

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, it sure came upon us fast, today the 3rd marks two other events.

The Battle of Gettysburg ended 156 years ago today, the last soldier was found and buried in 1996. He was a young man 20 years old, his identity is unknown. The body was found in an obscure spot by a person taking a walk. The North and South both lost 3500 soldiers, the South a few hundred more and the North a few hundred less, That was without a dought the most vicious war this country has ever been through. Unfortunately, it did not end there, Because re-construction was completely screwed up we are still feeling the effects today.

Today is also the birthday of my Mom, Dad, Uncle, and Grandmother, a huge coincidence without a dought. My Mom and Uncle were twins so that’s one matchup but my Dad and Grandma are the add ons. They are all long gone, great memories from good people.

July is a busy month, set right in the middle of summer the days are long with high sailing clouds, and cool winds from the North. The early morning hours are reserved for coffee, self-reflection and watering the garden every 3rd day.

This year is a bit strange however the days remain cool with the overnight temperatures even cooler. The garden is doing mostly good with a few indications that the growing seasons or maybe it’s better to say the growing environment has changed. The past two years I have had a difficult time growing Zucchini, this year is following that trend. I changed locations because I thought the soil in the box I have raised it in has worn out. It appears to not have anything to do with the soil, I believe it is the change in temperature.

To further my suspicions the Potatoes are still growing, normally by this time of year, it’s too warm causing them to wilt and die. This year 4 plants remain growing, 3 have flowered so it’s just a matter of a week until I will dig them up. That doesn’t mark the end of the Potatoes growing however there are more new plants emerging, I may be able to grow spuds year around, time will tell. But this is merely one symptom.

I planted beets two weeks ago, this is the absolute wrong time to plant them. Any other time of the year outside of June, July and August are recommended planting times in my zone. Due to the mild weather, I decided to plant them anyway to see what would happen. Amazingly every seed I planted has sprouted, I was expecting none to few, never did I expect all of them. I planted more where I dug up some Potatoes two days ago, I’m curious to experience the results, the optimist in me is confident, the skeptic thinks I was lucky.

I search the Tomatoes for the big fat green worms chomping along on the leaves, and stems. So far this year I have found two, generally, I find that amount twice a week. I have not seen any sign of them grazing on the Tomatoes, in fact, the ones I removed were on a Potatoe plant.

The worms will infest any nightshade patch, Peppers, Potatoes, Eggplant, and Tomatoes are just some that are victimized by the chubby dudes. I haven’t taken preventative measures to control them, seeing, plucking, and chucking is my modus-operandi. My friend has joined in when he visits, naturally, it has turned into a competition.

The Tomatoes are suffering, there are hundreds of green ones on the vines with very few ripening. They need nice warm days, cool nights, and regular watering with attention paid to overwatering. I’m not sure how others keep from over watering, my method is every third day I deep water, that’s my secret I’m willing to share far and wide. It’s shared as a statement and a question which translates to “how often do you water your Tomatoes?”

A number of people water only when the plants appear to need it, I take that as being a near-death experience but there is logic to it. As I understand it when the plant’s life is threatened they put on more fruit as it’s their way of making sure the species survive. I haven’t noticed more fruit being put on, my measurement is brown rot on the bottom of them, I have always thought the appearance of it meant they stayed too wet.

I water by hand with an open hose early in the morning or at dusk. Our small water company’s rules stipulate we water before 9 am and after 7 pm. It’s not often governing bodies make a rule that makes sense, but our board consisting of neighbors did just that. We have a good supply of well water delivering about 20 gallons per minute using an open hose it allows me to estimate how much water each plant receives. I let the water run between 15 and 30 seconds on every plant, that’s between 5 and 10 gallons. It is plenty for one plant, the entire garden is watered in 45 minutes, it takes longer to drag the hose around than to run the water.

We water the sections of the property with lawn located mostly on the levee, a little bit on the land side slope. The grass will thrive with 15 minutes of watering every third day, more can cause mold and mushrooms to establish themselves. Some turn the water on prior to going to bed and allow it to run all night every night. Not only is it a waste of water but a bigger issue when on a shared well system is the Utility Bills. Allowing the water to remain on all night causes the pumps to run as long also, for a small water company that’s the major costs. The board does an excellent job managing the system on the amount of what is billed to us. You will find this hard to believe but we pay $250.00 a year for water.

That is the reason for watering outside of peak hours, in order to maintain the cheap price of water we must water properly. We have another meeting coming up August 3rd, pure information.

Most of us have riparian rights, some of the oldest water rights in the State allowing us to water from the river. I did with the use of drip irrigation that worked well but I ran into a problem and had to stop. Our State sprays the river for weeds, I won’t get into why it’s way too political. Pellets are shot into the water, onto the weeds, and even onto the Levees, they get everywhere. While watering with that water my pumped sucked up some pellets, they dissolved in the holding tank producing liquid weed killer. I am averse to using weed killer, there are some instances in rural areas where it must be used but please not in our drinking and irrigation water. To make a long story even longer the water killed part of my garden, now I water from the well.

The Artichokes have died, I pulled them out and planted Beets, what in the world is going on?

It’s a double whammy for me, due to my weak immune system my doctor told me to never swim in the River again. That was a blow to me, I am not able to walk but for a few steps: I can still swim. I can but not in the river, lakes, or any public swimming area, hot tubs are out as well.

Conditions are changing, the jet stream coming off the Pacific has changed, the high-pressure area is not dominating the Golden Gate so far this summer. Perhaps it may rain all summer long, that would be a blessing of many different colors. Keeping the Golden State green would certainly help to keep the wildfires under control, this year so far remains greener than years past. Time will tell, until then I may pull the Zucchini out and plant another winter crop, Kale perhaps.

Jacques Lebec Natural Self Reliance

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