As I discussed last time, we’re late, late, late in getting the experimental garden in. Actually, looking around at what’s happening to the corn fields in our area, we’re not the only ones who got ‘the garden’ in late.
Timing, is everything, but again, as discussed, the weather this spring (thank you El Nino) was horrific. Too cold and wet at all the wrong times. The farmers are feeling it too. I have seen very few corn fields out there where the growth is uniform and uniformly bright green. I’m seeing lots of stress.
At this point in the growth cycle, why is that? The corn ordinarily is just jumping out of the ground. I’m seeing plants with yellowing leaves, even brown leaves.
It’s water (see the photo above – that is your dear old aunty, watering, watering, watering).
We didn’t get any snow cover to recharge the moisture in the ground. We started at a moisture deficit. And it has not gotten any better, either. So, even farmers who ‘got lucky’ in terms of finding a window where it was warm enough and the ground was dry enough for them to get the equipment into the fields to plant corn, soybeans or whatever are now in the position where the corn made decent early growth but now has no moisture to sustain it.
Corn is a finicky customer. It doesn’t matter if you are growing 500 acres of the stuff or a couple of blocks of it in your backyard garden, the requirements are the same: lots of fertility in the soil (corn is a heavy feeder) and moisture at just the right times. Up where I live, 30-40 years ago, this was not an issue. We had frequent enough rain that not only was the corn in good shape, but farmers got multiple cuttings of hay.
No more. Farmers who are not used to growing crops requiring irrigation or watering are at a definite disadvantage in terms of having equipment to handle moving water from where it IS to where it’s needed.
Now, at our experimental garden, we are lucky that we have a decent sized pond. Ordinarily, we, too, would have put the garden in in May, when there was still some moisture in the ground, but this year because of weather and other commitments, we didn’t get to it until this weekend (major tip of the hat to the DH and our son who put in yeoman work with me yesterday to get everything planted and watered). It was obvious when we dug down into the soil to plant the seeds and the onion plants that the beds that had been put into buckwheat and tilled in were still moist 4″ down from the surface. The bed that had black plastic on top of it to kill any weeds and the bed which had nothing done to it except for being tilled were dry. As in ‘handful of dust’ dry. No vegetable seed is going to germinate without added water in that situation.
Hence the photo at the top. We went out and bought an irrigation pump and several lengths of hose (note to anyone thinking of this: if you are not going to go out with a huge measuring tape to find out exactly what the distance is between your water source and where you need to move the water, do yourself a favor and buy one more 100′ length of hose) and while the DH and I were finishing up planting seemingly everything under the sun, our son started watering everything in.
And given that the weather predictions are that we are not going to get any rain for several days, we went back up this morning and spent three hours watering everything again.
There is nothing, trust me, nothing as boring as standing by a garden bed, staring at the soil, and watering. Knowing that in order for any of the seeds to germinate or the onion plants to actually survive will require this water and if there is not water weekly, we’ll have to go out, hitch up the pump and stand there and do it.