"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hard Times In The Food Garden

Gazing out the window I watch the last of the leaves fall from the trees reluctant to admit this year's gardening season is really over. Weather made it our toughest year ever yet we have stored up enough to feed us through the long months that lie ahead.

An unrelenting North Idaho winter had us shoveling snow in May to allow for the planting of seeds. We sadly stood and watched under the barns tin roof as thunderous hail stones pelted our newly established crops into mush on the first of July forcing us to replant over half of the garden. August windstorms took out the runner beans, which were propped back up, more securely this time, and they went on to exceed our every expectation providing us with many gallons of fresh and dried beans.

At the same time the corn was once again flattened so we constructed a rope grid to hold it up. Unfortunately between the hail and wind the corn didn't fare as well as the beans and it became fodder for our chickens. Lucky chickens. Aphids, leaf miners, and slugs haunted our salad greens and we were forced to cut many of them back in order to regain control over the bugs.

Fortunately the chickens like them better with bugs...again, lucky chickens.

We share a sense of accomplishment and pride that we did not give in to defeat and persevered to endure whatever came our way. We took it on as a personal challenge to respect mother nature's unexpected and at times irritating ways but refused to give in - whatever she threw our way we came back with a fury of our own. Here are some personal notes for the first half of July.

Garden notes and observations 2008:

07/01/2008 65-90° Day started out great, sunny and nice, 6:00 PM massive thunderstorm with large pounding hail - laid waste to garden. Looks like we get to start all over again - too bad it's already JULY!! On the bright side, we can go ahead and pick some of the peppers we have been wanting because they are laying all over the ground.

07/09/2008 56-90° Well now I know that plants that have been totally demolished by hail and rain will continue to grow...carrots sprang back the fastest with new growth and you can hardly tell anything happened to them, green beans put out new leaves fairly fast, squash and zuc are starting to put out new growth also. Peas are recovering still and the cucumbers are slowly getting new buds...I did a lot of seed re-plants on those and they are all coming up now. Broccoli (especially peacock), cabbage, and brussels still look pretty bad but are alive. Tomatoes are starting to regrow fairly well...potatoes look OK and seem to be putting out new leaves...good thing I planted so many...also the beets are starting to grow new leaves. My biggest concern is that the stress of hail and heat is going to cause chard and kales to bolt prematurely....

07/14/2008 43-80° Windstorm came and knocked my already struggling peas in half...guess I will continue with re-plants and crossed fingers today....after I clean up the mess of course.

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