I wrote an article a couple weeks ago about how the only farmers with good crops this year are those who either irrigated or were lucky enough to receive those scattered, pop-up showers that passed over.

I think the same has been true for those of us who garden. I don’t grow much, but the last couple years I’ve replaced a few flowers in parts of my flower bed with vegetables and a blackberry plant.

This year, I grew onions, green beans, radishes, bell peppers, Hungarian wax peppers and spearmint. I planted everything early thanks to the early spring, but when it quit raining some time back in April, I quickly found myself filling up my sprinkler can and pouring it over top the young plants.

Good decision

It made a difference and I’m convinced that without it, I would have lost most of my green beans and my onions would have been bite-size at best.

It also made a big difference on my pepper plants because even though they were well-established when I transplanted them from the greenhouse, they require a moist soil to re-establish and root in. And that was also my biggest problem with them — that they didn’t root in well enough, soon enough, and so when the winds came, the plants were easily bent and damaged. I staked a few of them early on, in hopes the stakes would provide more structure and rigidity, but they had minimal effect.

In June and early July, I got smart and unraveled my water hose and sprayed the plants directly. It got so dry that such action was necessary, if I was going to put down enough water to make a difference.

Harvest time

I picked my second crop of green beans last week and I’m hoping to harvest my third and final picking this week. I’ve also tried a few wax peppers, and I’ve pulled a few of my onions because I ran out and didn’t feel like buying them when I have them growing in my back yard. The peppers definitely aren’t as big as normal, nor as numerous, but the flavor seems to be the same.

And my onions have done surprisingly well. As long as the stems stay green, I’m going to leave them alone and let them grow as big as possible before I dry them and keep them for winter.

I love to cook with onions and part of the reason is because most of the meat I eat is wild game — deer and rabbit — and onion goes a long way toward taming and balancing the flavor of both of those. And onions, like other root crops, are packed full of nutrition and antioxidants, which is another plus.

Part of my goal in growing my own food is to save a few bucks. This year, it’s been difficult, because the additional water I’ve used on my plants has increased my water bill. It’s not a lot, but it’s a factor. And, despite the fact that I watered everything on my own using city water, an inch of my rain is not the same as an inch of God’s rain, which contains the right acidity, balance and volume to make the plants do best.

I’ve heard this year was the worst drought nationwide since 1956, and I truly hope it takes that long or longer before we see anything like it again. But at the same time, I’m grateful I produced what I did. I wouldn’t be surprised to see food prices head north come fall and winter — even more so than usual. If they do, I’ll be prepared.

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties.
Chris Kick
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