Monsoon Season

The Monsoon season has begun. Torrential, driving rain; howling winds; stem-breaking hail, thunder, tornadoes. From here on out until Summer my vegetables will fight for survival. It is a miracle that they make it at all.

Not that it is all bad. When I started growing plants, I noticed that my plants were a little brighter and stood a little straighter after heavy thunderstorms –heavy on the thunder that is. Now I understand that a certain amount of Nitrogen gets fixed from the air by the tremendous energy of lighting and it gets delivered to the plants via the rain.

BOOK
I am reading the book Just Food by James E. McWilliams. What an eye opener! McWilliams is an Agricultural Historian and he makes a good case for not concentrating solely on food miles when we look for sustainable agriculture. There is so much more in the book though. I am terrible at book reviews but when I am done I will attempt to review it here.
AND WHILE I’M ON THE SUBJECT…
I have this fantasy rolling around my head that I can produce vegetables at mega-farm prices in my yard. I’ve been doing some research on the Internet (it is amazing how much info on farm production there is online) and, at least for tomatoes, I need to make my plants produce anywhere from 8 – 20 lbs (3.6 kg – 9 kg) per plant. Of course, I have to get that at a profit if I was to sell my tomatoes.
The next stage is to grow 50,000 lbs of tomatoes in one season, which is the output of many tomato farms.
Then I would like to grow various crops, not just tomatoes.
Naive? Maybe, but even if I can’t do it, failure is such a wonderful teacher that I am bound to come out ahead.
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Rain!

We finally got a little bit of rain yesterday and today the sky looks promising for some more of the wet stuff.

It’s been in the high 80’s to mid 90’s around here with full sun for a couple of weeks and now my lettuce has bolted and some of my onions are blooming.

And while in the subject of rain, the people in Colorado are apparently reconsidering their ban on collecting rain water. What!? (you may exclaim). Yep,
it is considered stealing in Colorado, what, with all the water politics out West.
Our own rain barrel maker here in Wichita keeps making it in the news because rain water collecting is taking off like a rocket along with gardening and raising your own food.

Now, I called one of the local soda pop bottlers in town to ask if I could get a couple of 55 gallon drums where the soda syrup comes in and I was informed by a very friendly lady there that the State of Kansas is collecting the drums for a state-wide rain barrel project. Mmmmm… I immediately went to the State’s web site but all my search efforts turned nothing about this. I guess I’ll just have to wait.

Over and out.

Lots of rain, no rain water

The rain began falling right around 3:00 pm yesterday. Watching the water rush out of the water spouts with some force, a little voice told me to go check my rain barrel, but I did not. The rain continued to fall almost continuously until around 5:00 am today. When I let Lexie out this morning, I checked on the rain barrel and sure enough, the force of the water stream had knocked it over and I collected zero rain water.
The storm that dropped all this water –3 inches reported on the radio, was a strong one but none of my plants received any damage. My area is somewhat protected by many mature trees and there are wooden fences everywhere to baffle the winds. Mercifully, there was no hail.
The tornado sirens kept going off throughout the evening and this had Dominic worried. Ronan of course had to come and sleep in our bed because he is terrified of thunder and lighting. Curiously, Dominic never was.
The tornadoes that touched down did not even come close to our part of the county.
Today I will go look at the rain barrels at Lowe’s again.

The waiting garden

It’s raining still. It began on Saturday night, stayed all Sunday, and it’s still hanging around this morning.
Before the rain started, I managed to put out two more tomato plants, a Black Russian and a cherry type; Maskotka.
Then I decided to put the JalapeƱo M plants out as well. They seemed happy on the 65F degree weather, with a gentle breeze and a beautiful sun. I haven’t checked on them since but I have the perverse feeling that they are dead.
I also put all the potatoes that I had in peat pots out on tubs. Then I moved the garden bags where I am growing some more potatoes.
I also filled the upside down tomato planter that I bought and stuck a Jet Star tomato plant in it. This is my wife’s tomato plant. “I just want a plain red tomato” she said.
So far, I have the following tomatoes outside in home-made, self-watering containers:

Market Miracle
Amateur’s Dream
Black Russian
Urbikani
Maskotka
Brandywine

The onions and the garlic are doing great. My radishes all recovered from the snow and ice storms. My lettuces are coming on strong and I now have Minnesotta Midget canteloupe plants emerging.
I really wanted to plant my beans and peas this weekend but I did not get to them. It turns out that my wife and children want my attention as well and so I can only allot so much of it to my plants.

The book by Michael Pollan, Second Nature, is really good. I really like his take on weeds and weeding.

Still no pictures. I took a few pictures on Saturday but I was not happy with them. I want beautiful pictures like the ones here and here.

Last, I took the rain barrel I bought last year and put it under one of the water spouts. My 3 year old thought it was a good idea to take a hammer and bash in the bug screen on the barrel. I kept thinking of the best way to fix it and I finally got it: grease splatter screen. I will use that until I find the right size mesh somewhere to fix it permanently.
I also put a brand-new trash can under another one of the water spouts to collect water for the flower beds. They should both be full by now.

Hopefully, I will get to put the Irish Eyes sunflowers out today when I get home.