Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Garden in the Rain

We had gone for almost five months without significant rainfall. Most rain showers delivered just a tenth of an inch of rain. Plants and trees died from lack of water and 60+ days of 100 degree or more days.

This changed with almost a week of rain. My garden received close to three inches of rain. The temperatures were blessedly cool; days in the 80's and nights slipping into the 60's. The air conditioner was turned off and windows opened. How wonderful!

The basil I had just planted is flourishing as are the cactus and succulents recently added to the yard. The vegetable garden is not as happy. The first night of rain came with gusts of wind. Next morning, my healthiest tomato had blown over cage and all. One of the stakes holding the cage in place had broken and the other stake had bent under the load.

I made my way into the garden, sinking into the mud over my sandal's soles. Squishy, brown mud oozed up between my toes. With difficulty I straightened the cage and set it down with the one stake holding it in place. I found another stake and anchored the cage securely.

I checked for damage to the tomato plant. It seemed none the worse. No branches were broken although many had shifted location. Then I saw my bell pepper. I had planted it too close to the tomato anyway. Now, its main stem had been broken, but not torn. The top of the stem was now at right angles to the base. The only pepper on it was deep in the mud.

Gingerly, I picked the pepper. The base was cracked, but it will be usable sliced. The plant was another matter. I contemplated bringing the pepper upright and splinting the main stem. As I stared at the pepper, I suddenly realized that the top was bent out of the shade of the tomato and into the sunlight. Once more I examined the stem. There was no break in the skin. I decided to leave the pepper as it was. I'll see what happens. At least, it will get more sun.

As the rains continued, I noticed my eggplants' lower leaves yellow and fall off. A black fungus crept over the green ones. The aphids multiplied: light green ones and fuzzy white ones. Two of the tomatoes began to decline. The okra retained its top leaves, but looked more like a thin cane that a vegetable.

When the rains finally stopped, I squished aphids and cleaned out dead leaves. One eggplant listed to the south dramatically. I pulled it upright and pressed soil around it on the south side. There were two more fruits set on the eggplant. Whether from my pollinating efforts or the cool weather, I don't know.

After a day of sunshine, the garden is improving. The okra has more leaves and the eggplant is blooming. The toppled and restaked tomato plant shows no sign of damage. The bell pepper also seems to have improved with new leaves and blooms spouting. The odd 90 degree angle is hardly noticeable.

Soon, I will start my winter garden.

Photo by Bukowsky18

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