Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The State of the Garden, Part 1

Sigh. The weather here in Portland for the last month has been less than ideal for garden survival. And for that matter, it's been pretty hard on us humans too. In the last four or five weeks, we have had one sunny weekend, and rest has been gray, rain, and unseasonably cold temperatures. We have set a number of record "low highs," hitting low temperatures the likes of which have not been seen here at this time of year since the 1940s. By June 10th we had surpassed the average rainfall for the entire month of June. Oy.

The results of this include everyone in Portland being depressed and grumpy and griping out the weather at every possible opportunity (myself included), and all farms and gardens in the area suffering, as our plants drown and get wiped out by the hordes of slugs that have shown up, thriving on the wet weather. It's really slim pickings at all the farmers' markets, and the whole thing has taken a rather large toll on my own garden. To whit:

My onions are sad, droopy things that have been flattened by heavy rain (the kale seems to be surviving, since it got up and growing before the slugs showed up):
(Click on photos to enlarge)

My peppers had some aphid damage before I put them in the ground. Somehow, they look worse now:
The fabric was a half-hearted attempt to keep mud from splashing on the plants with all the rain. I have had to gently scrub every surface of them clean several times nonetheless, since they were so coated in mud they were beginning to suffocate...

My cabbages were doing just fine until a couple days ago. Then I found a number of green caterpillars all over them, apparently intent on eating my plants into oblivion. So, I had to buck up and deal with my holy horror of caterpillars, go for the gloves, and pick them off. This is what they look like after I cut off the most damaged leaves:

Other casualties of the weather include my corn, carrots, and two plantings of basil, none of which ever even came up, and all of the beans I planted, including my mom's Scarlet Runner Beans. The beans made it out of the ground, started to leaf out, and then got promptly mowed down by the slugs, despite being surrounded by egg shells and sharp rocks. I swear they went from sturdy sprouts to dead overnight.

In addition to the havoc being wreaked by the weather, the terrible conditions have kept me out of the garden for some time. I have rarely ventured out in the rain, and on Monday evening it was actually dry, if cloudy, so I went out to see if I could find any positive things going on in my little plot of earth. And I did:

My garlic has finally produced scapes!
I was getting a little concerned that with all the rain my garlic plants would never stop growing and I would have to harvest them before the leaves dried out. But the scapes are here, and now I think we might be on the right track.

 My peas are the one thing that have been doing great. They were well up and away before this weather hit, and I have been eating good old sugar snaps for a couple weeks now:

The only thing is that they have all gone south and are growing up the neighbor's side of the fence, so I look pretty silly leaning over to harvest them. 

The tomatoes are all growing away and blooming, but I certainly won't be getting any tomatoes till August at least...

One of my two surviving squash plants:

Only a few of the flowers I started out with remain. Here are a few poor bedraggled, nibbled-on pansies:

I'm trying not to be too disappointed by all damage, but for the first big garden I've done by myself, it's a little disillusioning. Still, I have my tomatoes and my potatoes, and Matt found a few little potted flowers for free on the curb, so they will help brighten things up. Now if we can just get some sunshine and real summer!


Heather said...

Hopefully your tomatoes will make up for all the damage! My garden looks decent except for the tomatoes and peppers - all of which look very sad. Probably because I grew them from seed without a grow light?!? :-/
My scarlet runners are actually doing pretty well, as is my kale and kohlrabi. Yay! Beets are getting there but it's been so slow going! Hoping the nice weather yesterday and today help things...

Donna said...

The weather you are having sounds like what we had here in NH last year all summer long...rainy and cool. Everyone was grumbling about how poor the garden harvest was.The only thing I had last year was zucchini,summer squash,and corn. I hope your weather improves!