Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Weird Season

You all might remember my year of wealthy harvest last year. Especially in the realm of tomatoes. This year, however, it’s very – very different.

Here we are, at the end of July, and I had about … 5 tomatoes out of my garden and one green bell pepper. Some green onions for a salad or two. As for our herbs, I did make a couple of batches of cilantro and basil pesto, and Aa. has made dill bread I think twice.  And that is that so far.

The tomatoes are good and tasty, but not as incredibly sweet as last year, and definitely not as huge as last year – they are small and dense. The pepper was tiny. Maybe the size of a golf ball! 

 Small harvest (in so many senses on the word): tomatoes, one pepper and pears ...

Everything just barely started to grow about two weeks ago. I water the garden every night, but the drought has just been way too serious this year for my water to be enough. The tomatoes are about 3 feet tall now, and very thick, but they don’t have tons of fruit nor blooms! So, they have enough water to grow, but not enough of a good combo of shade, sun, natural rain water and healthy air (I’ll explain in a few) to really produce.

Cabbage, kale and cucumbers just now spreading out ...

The funny thing is: we used the same spot in the garden for the veggie beds as last year, but we bought more good soil, with manure in it, and we tilled! With a tiller! Tilling is something I don’t believe in, especially with a  bonified tiller, but we did it this year, just because Aa. believes our soil is way too dense for anything to grow in it. And yet, the results are not as impressive as last year.

Every time I water for at least an hour at a time, my whole yard sucks the juice dry in seconds after the hose stops. It’s really quite depressing to watch. I guess, this is life in the real desert. And I have said it before: why the Mormons thought this is God’s blessed land, I have no idea! It’s definitely not easy to keep anything green here. We’re back at hunting down tomatoes at the Farmers’ Market this year, but, surprise-surprise!, the farmers are not that fortunate, either! 

The whole garden - to the left of the tomatoes, there are peppers and herbs (yes, that small!), and in the front bed, in the middle, between the cucumbers and cabbage: eggplants... 

Another thing that’s been plaguing us this year has been just the filthy air. I have been surprised at the air dirtiness in Utah since I moved here – none of those “clear mountain mornings” Willy Nelson sings about in his cowboy songs – but this year has been the worst, I think, in my two years of being here. Part of the problem is the wild fires that have scorched the desert all summer long. We have had so far around 600 wildfires statewide. You have no idea what the air smells like and breathes like when all you have around you is brush smoke and ashes!

I have never heard of trees exploding from extreme heat till I moved here. But apparently that’s what has happened this year in Utah: once a wildfire starts, even in the desert, the dry trees and dry roots and brush self ignite and burn extremely fast! And the proverbial desert wind carries the plunder in a hurry! They burn for weeks. My migraines and sinus garbage have been insane this summer!

I know that ashes are supposed to be a natural fertilizer, but I am not sure the simple (lack of) air quality has not been extremely poisonous to plants this year! 

 The sky above our house, earlier this month, while fires were burning all around us ... 

I look at my garden and it tries as hard as it can to stay green. In sort of a forced grin, it thanks me for the little water I give it. But the stuffiness in the air and the dryness of the sand torture it.

As I have said – some of the things just started to expand in the past two weeks (we have had some random, very, very short lived and rapid summer showers), so maybe all is not hopeless yet! There will be slow growth and some lost plants, I am sure. But I am still patiently waiting to see how strong and stubborn life really can be, even in the absence of life’s juice and clean oxygen!  

No comments: