Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Gold Moon

The name of this moon is supposed to refer to the golden crops and grass, but this year things have already been brown and yellow for a long time. It's really depressing driving through the countryside and seeing so many dead trees, standing out golden-colored among the dull green of trees still hanging in there.

The only good side I can see to this is the Ligustrum (aka Privet) seems to be one of the trees suffering the worst in this drought, and it's an invasive species. Maybe that will cut back on its numbers a bit.

On the other hand, the invasive Chinaberry trees seem to be doing fine, and some native trees also look terrible. All the red oaks look completely dead, their leaves look like parchment (rather than turning bright red like they're supposed to in the fall). Most elms, ashes, and bald cypress also look bad. About the only trees that are still green are the Ashe junipers and the live oaks, but they're a sickly, dull green.

Oh, and of course the mesquite and huisache are fine, but those are trees that are right at home in far south and west Texas. Maybe if drought conditions persist, those are the trees that will end up being the dominant ones in the landscape. Well, at least we'll have something.

The garden hasn't changed much in the last month. In August we got NO rain. Not a drop! The only things alive are the things I'm watering. Everything else is toast. That cold front we had for Labor Day was nice for a little while (well, for those of us who didn't get displaced by wildfires), but it's already crept back up to being over 100 every day again.

In the foreground is the Ms. Burns Lemon Basil, and some Asia Red Amaranth in bloom. In the background you can see what most of the rest of my garden looks like. I'm planning on preparing that bed for fall crops, but it's too dry to till. When I try to hoe, big clouds of dust billow up. I think I'm going to just add a layer of compost on top and then start watering it a bit before I plant anything. Hopefully that will soften the soil up a bit. It will have to be store-bought compost too, because my compost pile is completely dry as well, and therefore no decomposition has been going on all summer. Everything's just mummified.
I have two fall tomatoes left, one of each variety, Cherokee Purple and Bloody Butcher. They've barely grown, though, so I doubt I'll get a fall crop out of them before it freezes. I also have two fall eggplants left. Same story with those.
I've been planting basil plants of various varieties in the slots left when tomatoes and eggplants die, to make better use of the soaker hose. Most of them are doing ok. Basil is pretty tough when it comes to heat. It's the only thing I've been harvesting all summer. Yesterday I made a batch of pesto with my Ms. Burns Lemon Basil, and put it on some baked fish.
I started out with 10 tomatillo plants, but they've been dying off one by one, and now I have four, with one that looks like it's about to die soon. Still haven't harvested any fruits from them.
The California Wonder bell peppers are still the best looking things out there. I have one pepper on there that I'm letting ripen to save seeds from, but that's all I've gotten so far. I don't expect to get a lot to eat from them.

And that's pretty much it out in the garden.

I do have a bunch of fall crops started in yogurt cups on the porch. So far I have cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, broccoli raabe, mustard greens, and chard. Part of me wonders if I should give up on the garden completely, but I guess gardeners just never give up. There's always another season, and I already had the seeds, so I might as well give them a chance. I really need to be more efficient with my water usage, though, because they predict this drought will continue into the winter. At least there's less evaporation in cooler temperatures.

I never did plant my fall peppers. They're still really small. Peppers from seed always grow so slowly for me. I'm going to try an experiment with them, and see if I can keep them in pots through the winter and plant them out in spring. Maybe by then they'll be big. Peppers are perennials in their natural habitat anyway, so maybe this will work out. We'll see.

1 comment:

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