Frugal Gardener: Drought Takes Its Toll

When I began writing I promised to  share my success and my not so positive experiences.

At the moment, I am in one of those not so positive situations.   We have had no  rain for a while; everything, including me, is withering from heat and lack of moisture.

Actual temperature have been  near, and  over, 100 degrees, with heat index readings to 117 degrees in some areas.   Folks, when the weather man warns the “elderly” to be careful, I ain’t arguing that one!

Its strange, all around us there have been storms, floods, RAIN, but all we have gotten so far are  rumbling thunder concerts.

Take a look at these pictures.   It is hard to believe my garden and plants were pictures of health and bountiful harvest a few short weeks ago.

Fig trees shows need for moisture!

This poor fig tree probably shouts the severity of the situation most clearly.   See the yellowing foliage.  Thankfully, the figs are beginning to ripen; but even the birds are finding it too hot to peck, everything is falling to the ground.

The unusual heat is showing me a couple of interesting things about my methods of planting.

I am using eBuckets, and self watering containers for some of my heirloom tomatoes, and

In eBuckets tomatoes can survive heat, bearly.

close planting in mulched beds for others, to compare methods.

Tomatoes in storage container self-waters hold on

These pictures taken this afternoon (7/27/10) answer some of my  questions .

  • Will tomatoes survive full sun all day when sitting in an exposed 5 gallon eBucket?   Here in SC mine have; even when I have not been able to give them the best of care due to health problems and travel.   They have suffered full day heat, lack of water for several days.  The bottom leaves are dying but the tops are growing (and blooming!).
  • Will a 5 gallon eBucket support growth of an indeterminate tomato? Again, my eBuckets seem to with no problem.   You see stakes in these  buckets, the plants growing around them are over my head and still trying to grow.
  • Tomatoes growing in the self watering containers (converted storage bins), planted 2 plants to the container are doing the same.   Those stakes are 8 ft tall before I pound them into the ground, not very far either!
  • What about the tomatoes I spaced 12 inches apart in a row in the raised bed and mulched?  I had to put 8 ft supports on either end of row to support the growth.

12 inches apart in row, produced abundantly and still growing in heat

You probably wonder what kind of harvest I had. It was fantastic!   June temperatures were comparatively moderate, we had sufficient rain, I was able to give the plants the attention they needed.   My reward was a crop of beautiful tomatoes;  with the heirlooms I finally tasted tomatoes like I remember tomatoes tasting.  Delicious!!

Til the end of June we enjoyed tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, berries, beets….all grown with no spray (no insect damage!)

One tomato has really surprised me, I planted it as a fill-in.  Purchased a couple “Early Girls” figuring they would

Won't give in to heat. Still, growing, blooming and setting fruit!!

produce before the heirloom.   One plant is still growing, blooming and setting fruit!!  It is headed toward the 8 ft mark; so much for the delicate girl!

Do I consider the garden a success at this point?   I certainly do.  My planting methods are proving to be productive, if unorthodox.

My first full season using eBuckets under stressful situations indicates  they can be used successful in less than favorable conditions.

Now, if I can figure out how to make rain, I will have it made.

Read about the Native American rain dance; was planning dance in the front yard until my wife hid my loincloth and informed me that was not the proper attire for that dance anyway!!  DRATS!!

Old Fool!!

One response to this post.

  1. very useful tips, especially when you live in areas with not much rainfall…. handy! 🙂


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