June 26, 2013

Gardening in the Dustbowl

                                                                        image source

So who decides to start a garden in the middle of an "Exceptional Drought"??

This girl.

Back in March when we were waiting for the rain to start we moved into a new house, with the perfect bed for a vegetable garden. Nice and sunny. Not too big.

So we planted seeds and a few seedlings and waited. I had dreams of cherry tomatoes and all the parsley and cilantro I could ask for. Strawberries! Carrots! Peas! Okra! (What am I going to do with okra?!?) Then we had two weeks where the temps alternated between 85 degrees, and freeze warnings at night. Then there was no rain. Zilch. Nada.

This was a weird spring in southwestern Oklahoma. We were unbelievably grateful to be spared the severe storms that caused so much destruction two hours away, but we are so desperate for the rain. If you look at that drought map you can see that we are one of two sections of the state in level 4 drought stage. We are able to water one night a week, for which I am very grateful. If we can last the summer without losing that privilege I will be beyond thrilled.

And yet...my little garden is hanging in there. It's not quite what I dreamed of, but I am so proud that anything survived this far.

The peppers are flowering!

The tomatoes have grown so much I am going to have to go buy tomato cages. There was NO WAY I thought that would happen. If the drought didn't get it, I was sure my poor vegetable gardening track record would. My mother, who has the greenest thumb I've ever seen normally has to save my garden at least once a summer. 

Some of the things we're doing to help save the plants this year...we installed a soaker hose, so that when we are allowed to water, it's going straight to the plants and not wasting a lot on empty soil. We collect what rain water we can get in various containers around our yard. Next year we will get a rain barrel! Several of our friends have one and it looks like a great investment. For now, there are wheelbarrows and empty pots in various corners of our yard. 

We're just beginning the 100+ degree days here (110 today!) but I'm hoping I can limp the garden along for long enough to get some sort of harvest. I may not be canning buckets of homemade pizza sauce this year, but I think any produce we can use this year is a win. 

What are you growing in your garden this year? 

And what is your favorite Okra recipe? Figures the one thing I don't know what to do with is one of the things that keeps growing :) 

And because I can't help but plug a book...if you're at all interested in the history of the Dustbowl, and what happened to this area in the 1930's, check out The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan. It's absolutely fascinating to see what created the dust storms and the people who coped with and survived something that we can't even imagine today.

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