Farm Progress

Ongoing drought makes even small gardens a challenge

As spring begins and the drought continues, all we can do is pray for rain.

Walt Davis 1, Editor

March 22, 2018

3 Min Read
IT’S SPRING: The emergence of the daffodils each spring is always a cheerful time; a reminder that it’s time for the world to wake up from the winter and begin a new season.

It’s the time of year to dig in the dirt and plant something. And the time to hate Bermuda grass. And to hate Canada thistle. And to hate anything with tiny little stickers all over it.

Yes, I’ve been cleaning out the flower beds and the garden space. I have no idea why I don’t wear gloves to do this, because you’d think that would beat the heck out of trying to pull tiny stickers out of your fingers with scotch tape.

I’d like to know how these little sticker things last all winter attached to some innocuous looking piece of vegetative skeleton that appears perfectly safe to pick up and chuck into the trash bag. I can’t keep mascara on my eyelashes for 12 hours, and I think the cosmetic industry could sure use some substance that makes darn-near microscopic stickers cling for months.

When I am named Queen of the Realm, Bermuda grass will be declared a noxious weed. How does that stuff manage to grow right through brick? Some prior resident of my current space thought it would work well to put down that “landscape fabric” to prevent the grass coming up in flower beds. I’m here to tell you it doesn’t work. Not even a little bit. What you get is Bermuda grass coming up through the fabric. Since its roots are under the fabric, you can’t pull the grass all the way out without also pulling up the fabric. What a mess.

I’m pretty sure the Bermuda grass in my garden is also Roundup Ready. It knocks back for a week or so, then comes right back. On the bright side, the neighbor once in love with his Bermuda grass had his yard scalped last fall and put down fescue sod. So, I have a chance at eradication.

I hit the garden center today, hoping for plants ready to go into the garden. It’s just a bit early; there’s early perennials but no tomato or pepper plants, etc. just yet, so I had to be content with planting some onions, lettuce, radishes and broccoli. Anybody tried asparagus? My grandmother used to have a bed of asparagus and it was soooo good in the early spring.

So far, my dig in the dirt involves being delighted in the emergence of the daffodils (pathetically pale this year; my bad, I should have fertilized and watered them for rich, yellow color) and the tulips, and concern over some of the other emerging vegetation that needs a healthy drink of water.

We have rain in the forecast but not in sufficient amounts to break the ongoing drought. I feel fortunate that I am not facing the challenge that my farmer friends face — the plants I am trying to save grow in square feet of soil, not square miles. I can turn on a garden hose and solve most of my problems. I can pull out things that don’t work, thin plants for the best stands and manage one plant at a time.

I feel really lucky that I have much more control of my little garden spaces than most farmers have over their acres of crops. I can add fertilizer or water easily and inexpensively, and if my crop fails I can buy from the farmers market or the grocery store and get the same food I would have grown.

OK, it won’t be my great produce, but it will be homegrown stuff from growers I know, and all that other feel-good stuff that goes with buying “fresh from the farm.”

For those farming square miles rather than square feet, there’s not much except crop insurance to replace the crop not harvested. About all we can do right now is pray for rain.

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