The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Working with a dry May

Swamp drying up

An unusually dry May has its pros and cons. On the plus side, if the summer stays like this, our garden may bypass its usual wide range of fungal diseases. And, already, the weeding pressure is much lower than in normal seasons...

Butternut squash seedling

...because the weed seeds simply aren't sprouting. Unfortunately, unless I give them some TLC, neither are the vegetable seeds.

Usually, the only times I have trouble with seed germination are in early spring (pushing the envelope with cold soil) and in midsummer (when I plant cool-loving fall crops that aren't impressed by summer heat). But, this year, I'm having to replant some of my usually dependable vegetables --- like green beans and sweet corn --- because even the sprinklers aren't enough to get them off to a good start. Heaven forbid I try to plant (the way I usually Young basil plantdo) outside the spread of our irrigation system.

Luckily, the lack of a spring this year is actually working in my favor. It was cold so late into the so-called spring that I started lots of transplants inside, and most are loving their new habitats in the garden. Those pre-sprouted beans I mentioned a few weeks ago failed miserably --- only three of the nine plants survived --- but I've been snipping off a few basil leaves here and there for the last two weeks, and our pepper plants are up and running.

Meanwhile, the summer vegetables that I started before the weather turned dry --- either under quick hoops or just early in the garden --- are also doing well. I hope to see cucumber blooms next week and maybe we'll eat the first broccoli head at the same time. The heat is Cucumber flower budgiving some plants pause --- notably the peas (currently producing) and crucifers, who wilt a bit in the afternoons even if they've been recently watered. But, overall, these early vegetables seem to be thriving beneath the bright summer sun.

I still can't decide if I should be wishing for rain. Everyone else is --- non-rotational pastures in the area are brown and nearly bare and unwatered gardens aren't doing much better. But I keep thinking that if we have a few more weeks of drought, we'll be able to drive in some manure....

Luckily --- since I'm so conflicted --- my wishes have no impact on the weather at all. Rain will come when it comes, and in the meantime I'll give my seeds a little daily water to make sure they sprout.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I've noticed that in El Nino years, we tend to have drought earlier in the season (say around May/June as opposed to August/September). In La Nina years, we seem to have a lot of rain. Unfortunately, NOAA stating that last year's El Nino fizzled out around September but seems to be roaring back in Spring. So I guess I'm going to have to keep my irrigation system up and running longer than usual.
Comment by NaYan Thu May 28 10:02:17 2015

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