Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Garden Variety Drought

No one would consider our region in a real drought, but surely we are having another garden variety drought. No? One not unlike the period of, maybe, January through April? Summer rains are thunderstorm rains, which tend to be hit or miss. Here, it's been all miss, whereas Central Park may have seen a bit more hit.

We did have significant rain in May, which put most of our plants in better standing to deal with the utter lack of rainfall since June 12. Now, as I walk about, I see even some weedy plants beginning to slump their leaves until nightfall. Our garden, planted for only rain watering, is hanging in there, but is beginning to show the signs of stress. Although, our garden is hardly the worst of it.

The United States has broken the record for the warmest 12-month period on record. Last summer was the 2nd warmest on record, this winter the 4th warmest, and this spring was the warmest on record. This heat has been described as a one in 1.6 million event. Those are some odds. The middle country, anywhere from the mid-west of Missouri to the mid-east of Ohio to the south east of Georgia have been under severe to extreme drought conditions for some time. Record or near-record temperatures have exacerbated the problem.

I recently discovered that the farmer, Lou Pendleton, who grows the French Grey shallot sets that I plant, has lost his entire crop. Not just the shallots, mind you, but all his varieties of garlic too. Of course this didn't just happen, but has been in the slow and steady works since March. There simply wasn't enough rain to supply his unirrigated fields of sandy loam. The crop simply shriveled. This was his first serious loss in 13 years and he's discouraged.

A farmer of edible allium saves their seed for the next year.  When he loses his crop, he loses everything. The price of seed has gone up quite a bit since the early nineties and one would have to buy a lot to replace what has been lost. And then there is the issue of disease, as one always buys new stock without total confidence.

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