Monday, June 21, 2010

Okay, I get it - no garden this year

Summer! O glorious first day of summer!

Yeah right.

I have finally accepted the inevitable: I will not be having a successful garden this year.

That's because on this, the first official day of summer, the temperature remains chilly...

It's pouring rain and windy out...

And I have the woodstove fire going.

This has been the weather pattern all spring. We'll be teased with a couple of glorious days of sunshine...

And then it's back to the nasty cold rainy windy weather.

(Yes, this is our lawnmower. Push mowers only work when the grass is dry. The grass hasn't been dry in a long time. At this point our only option to mow is a scythe and/or weedwacker.)

Nothing - and I mean nothing - is growing in the garden. (It's a little too soon to know for sure about the potatoes, even though I planted them almost a month ago. Potatoes like cooler temps and they take a long time to grow, so I may yet have luck with them.)

And I found ONE pea plant a few days ago, about an inch high. ONE. I planted the peas and beans on May 28 and not a single thing (except this one pea) has sprouted.

This is doubly frustrating because we have some folks visiting in 2 1/2 weeks that I really wanted to impress with a nice garden - you know what I mean? But it's not to be.

So I have to mentally stop fighting what can't be helped. The failure of the garden is not my fault. Unlike last year when I planted things too late, this year I planted in a timely fashion. It's just been a bad spring.

We're not alone. To hear folks talk, no one is having any success. How can they? The soil is still as cold as in March.

Trouble is, we were hoping to save a lot of our plants for seed this year. So this means we need to move toward Plan B.

Right now I have five precious heirloom tomatoes in the greenhouse - where they're staying (I'll re-pot as necessary) - and these will not be eaten but instead will all be saved for seed.

I also have tiny broccoli plants coming up. Broccoli has a fairly short growing season, so if the weather moderates we may yet have broccoli heads. Broccoli is one of the easiest plants to harvest for seeds, so I anticipate success with this.

I also have four types of herbs sown and barely sprouting: oregano, basil, sage, and thyme. I'll probably pot these and keep them in the greenhouse. I've never saved herbs for seed, so this will be an experiment for me.

All of the dry beans I planted (navy, pinto) apparently can just be planted with store-bought dried beans, so I already have a good supply of those. I have pumpkin seeds left over from last year, as well as enough seed corn saved to plant another year.

But the green beans, cantaloupe, watermelon, and peas will have to be re-ordered from the seed company we use. In fact, we're going to order triple the amounts we would normally need.

The (assumed) failure of the garden is a good, if harsh, lesson. As my dad pointed out, right now a garden's failure is merely an inconvenience. But in times past, a garden's failure could be catastrophic. Our dearest hope is that a failed garden won't be catastrophic in the future as well.


  1. I know what you mean. We have only lettuce and spinach growing right now. It is so wet and cool that our trees are already starting to loose their leaves.

    Next year, we are hoping to start planting two years worth of produce each year so we can can/dehydrate enough in case we have similar years like this. Kind of like Joseph did, save for the lean years.

  2. Farmers from the beginning have had to learn to live with the vagueries of weather. You'll have a late harvest, but you'll have one. Think how fabulous your Thanksgiving meal will be, with all that glorious food reaching maturity at once in November. In the meantime, you have that great greenhouse - smart thing to have.

    Anonymous Twit

  3. The weather has been weird here, too. Frosted while the cherry tree was blossoming - so we got two cherries off the tree, and that's all we're going to get this year. Looks like the plum tree is going to do the same. Don't know about the apples. Only the grapes and raspberries are doing well. I'm thinking I'll be buying fruit at the farmers' markets when I visit my parents in Ohio, just to bring home to can here...I'm liking the two year's worth of plant and canning plan more and more, so I don't run out on one bad year.

  4. I am guessing last years weather pattern must have shifted West cause we experienced almost the same conditions last year. Cool, wet, almost all Summer. So much so my corn was stunted, zucchini didn't grow well at all etc etc. Of course I am a bit further South so it did warm up eventually.

    Like Lanita mentioned I just expanded more for this year because of it.

    Heres hoping your weather improves.

  5. Here in Texas we have already hit 100 degrees! No rain in sight either. My tomatoes are wilting and sun scorched. Even the weeds are wilting!! And I was just thinking about moving somewhere with 4 seasons! : )

  6. Patrice,
    I live in the same region as you and have the same weather issues. I've lost some squash plants and after planting others in the ground, it took me 3 days to see them deteriorate, so we dug them up and put them in the greenhouse. Also, my basil is not doing well so put a couple of new starts in the greenhouse as well. We planted potatoes, corn and lettuce Memorial Day weekend. My potatoes are coming up along with my corn. The lettuce were transplants and are doing splendidly.

    Lanita mentioned that her trees are losing leaves and mine are as well. A lot are turning yellow and falling off with the wind- our patio looks like it is fall outside! I didn't know cool weather did that to trees.

    Also, I had a bumper crop of apples last year but lost most of them to an early frost in September after listening to someone who told me they would be okay with the frost. Now this year, I had 3 blossoms on 3 trees, 2 on 1 and 1 on another. So no apples this year.

    Hopefully, things will warm up enough that we can have some healthy food to eat later this summer and fall.

  7. I so hear you! We are on the CA/OR border and have had weather just as you described. I like what your Dad says. Rather than staying frustrated, we've been experimenting with season extenders. chocking this season up to education. My husband built some nifty, inexpensive hoop houses, and I ordered some floating row cover and solar mulch. I think in northern climates, having season extending tools on hand is a necessary part of a prepardness plan. And I also learned that by the time you realize you NEED these materials, its too late to buy them. Either they are sold out, or cannot be shipped in time to serve their purpose.

    Also, I learned from my MIL that on years when you have a bumper crop of apples, (or whatever), you can't put up too much! Go ahead and make 2 years worth of canned apples, dried apples, etc., cause there's no telling what's coming the next year!

  8. Well...

    'they' say misery loves company, but I doubt all of us sharing in this experience are much comforted by our various outpourings of frustration and sense of loss we seem to have in common. The best thing about it (as far as we can tell from where we stand today...) is as Patrice's Daddy says: it's not the life or death situation it once was for folks in this country, and, sadly, still is in so many parts of the world. I've been thinking along the same lines as 'Anonymous Twit'...(love that handle)..and trying to remember how hot it can be here, even this far north, in September...but then I hear my tomato plants snickering. Yeah, the ones with two blossoms apiece which I seriously doubt ever set fruit due to the constant rain washing they've gotten. My beet crop is stunted and my dill, after getting off to a great start, simply disappeared. My established herbs are doing fine, especially my favorite, summer savory. It's a happy camper. My lettuce looks half way decent, and possibly by way of a 'nature's consolation prize' of sorts, it appears I may have a couple of volunteer Yukon Gold potato plants coming up.
    Happily the berries are comin' on far. But if we don't get some more sun they'll leave a lot to be desired where flavor is concerned. That's OK, though. I'll be grateful for every single one of them, especially when it's February and we're sitting in two feet of snow and I'm serving warm berry cobbler.
    I'm gonna keep a good thought for Patrice's garden...she's put a lot more time, effort and $$ in hers this year than I have. Maybe things will snap out of it and surprise us all yet.
    Prayers up!
    A McSp