Here in northern Virginia, we’re accustomed to hot hot hot and dry-yet-humid summers interspersed with dramatic bursts of intense rain and lightning. That’s standard for this region. Complaining about the lack of rain is a regular summertime conversation-starter for farmers and gardeners in these parts.
But, seasonal dryness and actual drought are different things. This year, we’re in drought. And, let me tell you, it’s no fun.
Odds are good that your summer has been unhappily droughty too; more than half of the country remains in moderate to severe drought, according to the US Drought Monitor. If you expand that to include areas that are unusually dry — a technical term that indicates below-average rainfall but not yet official drought — nearly 70% of the United States and Puerto Rico are impacted. No wonder it’s been a tough year for farmers and gardeners and wildfire. The whole country is dry and brittle (and burnable).
It does sometimes rain during a drought. And, lately, it’s been doing that around here. We’re still in moderate drought, which means the water tables are low and the trees are suffering. But, at least the garden is getting watered a bit more regularly (I will use the sprinkler, but only sparingly). And, after a summer of dry soil and thirsty plants, these last few weeks of occasional rain have sparked a bit of a growth spurt:
There are volunteer tomatoes everywhere in the garden. These mostly seem to be ‘Matt’s Wild Cherry’ tomatoes, and they are insanely healthy, so I’m letting them grow where they don’t overcrowd other things. Because, hey, more tomatoes!
If you grow ‘Matt’s Wild Cherry’ tomatoes just once, chances are good you will never need to plant them again. This wild-type tomato self-sows happily and readily.
There are also watermelons and pumpkins all over the place. Especially in the path. Walking through the garden has become a challenge:
The pumpkins and watermelon are mostly hidden from the neighbors, but there’s no hiding the corn. It’s as tall as the eaves!
I’m actually really liking how the popcorn plants look. Tall and vertical and architectural. Like big stalks of ornamental grass, but edible too. That’s the idea, right?
By the way, I’m not the only one growing corn in the front yard. Melanie, over at Beyond Back Creek, planted sweet corn along her driveway this year. Not only is she enjoying a sweet harvest, she’s also inspiring her neighbors. In today’s blog post, she writes about how some of her neighbors are planning on growing corn along their driveways next year. Front yard vegetable gardening, for the win!
The artichokes are back! Were you worried? I was. Seems they just needed a mid-summer slumber. They’ve been growing crazy-fast. Even though I get a small harvest this spring, I’m hopeful for a larger fall harvest, since everything I’ve read suggests these are an end-of-summer treat.
The flea beetles are totally gone, and the eggplant seems eager to make up for lost time. It’s still a bit scrawny, but check out all those flowers!
Speaking of flowers, the yardlong beans are beginning to bloom. So pretty.
And — my favorite! — the garlic chives are just beginning to flower.
And, that’s the garden today. Here’s hoping the milder temperatures and occasional rains stick around for a bit longer. July was brutal, but maybe August and September will make up for it?
How are things with your garden? Are you getting enough rain? Too much?