John McDonald

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Swampy Summer Threatens the Farm

May 20th, 2009

It seems like there are two kinds of summer-time weather in Jacksonville – constant rain resulting in swamp-like conditions, and scorching sunlight resulting in fires & smoky air.

If this week is an indicator of the year’s trend, its going to be a tough one for my little backyard container farm.  The green bell pepper plant was really growing strong, but the last few days have provided absolutely zero sunlight and way too much rain.  The onion is holding steady and the other peppers & strawberries were just starting to sprout.

Now they’re treading water in swampy mud, and I’m wondering if I should be trying to grow some kind of really thirsty plants instead.  Lettuce?  Cucumbers? I sort of doubt if they could handle the dark and soggy environment here.

Of course, this could just be a freak storm before a dry, hot summer.  With just a few plants, it wouldn’t be too hard to keep ’em going under the arid heat.  But just the few prior days of cold, wet, darkness are draining the vitality from the more advanced plants.  The green pepper was adding a leaf a day and starting to form little buds for the peppers – now the leaves are sort of slumping and nothing is getting any bigger.  A few leaves on the onion had to be pruned as they turned darker and darker and ultimately brownish-black.

The dollar weeds are stubbornly enthusiastic about the local climate – despite an utter lack of sunshine they’re sprouting every day.  When we were clearing out parts of the yard, these things had roots running laterally underground a good two feet.  A single underground root system was connecting a hundred square feet of round lilly-pad looking things.  No wonder they love the swampiness.

Of course, all the plants that taste good are a little bit pickier.  We’ll see if they survive the season, but I’m getting a little skeptical if some sun doesn’t peak through the wall of clouds soon.

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  • John McDonald says on: May 20, 2009 at 5:13 am

     

    Here’s a little update,

    I just transplanted the seedlings & small plants to big planters. They should be able to grow to full size in their current set up. From here, I’ll just need to keep the pots weeded and hope for some sun!

    It looks like the first season will include a one green & one red bell pepper plant, one onion (that probably won’t yield until next spring) and one strawberry bush (that won’t yield for at least another year), and two tomato plants.

    There’s still some planting time left thanks to our late and rare frosts. If the rain keeps up, the cucumbers are going in and I’ll need to find another fruit or veggie that likes a ton of water.

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