Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Creeks Didn't Run In June

I cannot believe a month has passed since my last post.  What have we been doing all that time?

Sweating, for the most part.

And staring at the radar on the NOAA website, trying to will rain showers to head in our direction.  We haven't had much luck in that department.  Holy Moly, it's dry here.  My late father always said, "The creeks have to run in June, or we're in for a dry summer."

The creeks didn't run in June, there weren't even any puddles.  Oh, dear. 

Like so many other parts of the country, we've been suffering through an extreme heat wave for the last week.  For some reason, it seems a whole lot longer than that, though.  The weather people assure us that by Saturday we should be back to normal, in the low 80's.  If this indeed happens, it will be such a relief. I think the highest temperature we actually achieved was 98 degrees on Thursday with a 'feels like' reading of 105 or something.  I can attest to the fact that it felt awful.
River Bed and the luckiest part of the lawn that gets watered.

We have had less than an inch of rain since the end of May.  Our lawn was getting crunchy underfoot even before the June 7 garden walk.  Now, after a week of 90+ temps it's just barely hanging on.  I'm not worried about my weed/lawn though.  The beauty of having a lawn comprised of mostly weeds is that no matter what, it will survive.  I wish the same could be said of the crops in the farm fields.  High temperatures and no rain spell disaster for yields.  As all gardeners know, it's not a good idea to stress a plant at any time as it will affect the plant's future performance.  And when you're a farmer, you're talking about a few million plants.

I took a walk last night past the acres of corn, soybeans and alfalfa planted here on our farm and marveled that so far, the crops are hanging in there pretty well. We've had a few teeny-tiny rain showers this past week of 1/8" of an inch up to a whopping 1/4" that have managed to keep the crops alive and I'm thankful for that, but wow, we need more.  The hayfield would bounce right back from the second crop cutting if it would rain. 

I've been watering every day with a hose, but well water is no substitute for rain.   And I don't want to run the well dry, either.  Having a new well drilled is very expensive and I'd like to avoid it if I could. 

There's a chance of rain in the forecast for tonight.  As I write this post, I keep jumping back to the live radar online and monitoring the rain.  It's not looking good for us unless something pops up closer to home.  This summer, watching the radar has been so disheartening.  A storm will be headed right for us with great rain potential and suddenly veer off in another direction or, for the most part this year, inexplicably dissipate just before it reaches us.  Sometimes it seems there must be a Naughty Giant wielding an immense hair dryer blowing the clouds dry before they get here.  I wish the Giant would move on.

However,  in other parts of the state, storms have formed and almost stalled, dumping up to 7" of rain causing flash floods and other madness and mayhem.  I guess like Carl says, 'It's just not our turn this summer.'
Hoses, hoses everywhere.  (And little dogs.)

On Tuesday night I thought we were going to get lucky.  I was out watering the potted plants and thunder started rolling in the distance.  Rain wasn't even forecast for us, just hot and more hot.  I went out to the front lawn to take a look at the sky and was amazed and a little intimidated by the size of the storm approaching.  I could smell the rain in the air, it was so close.  Eventually, it started to rain a little and grabbing a lawn chair, I ensconced myself on the gazebo and sat back to enjoy the show.  Carl came out and joined me and we both waited for the heavier rain which would surely bless us with its presence.

It was so close.

And yet, so far.

After approaching at a rapid rate of speed from the west, the storm suddenly went south, just missing us.   The light precipitation we had been getting stopped entirely.  Just like that.  I went galloping into the house to check the radar and sat there, stunned.  Really?  Not again!  But that's the way it goes.  It just ain't our turn.  Carl is stoic and accepts things like this with ease.  I'm an impatient brat.  Grabbing my car keys, I announced to him that if the rain wouldn't come to me, I was going to go to it.  We drove to where the rain had just fallen and the roads were steaming from the change in temperature.  Even though we didn't get any of the rain, it was nice to see the cornfields soaking up the moisture.  I drove a few more miles and was able to get a clean windshield from the last lingering drips before it was time to turn around and go back home.  Our driveway was a little damp, but under the willow tree it was still as dry as a bone. I went out on our lane and scraped my foot.  Less than an 1/8 of an inch down, the dust puffed up to meet my shoe.  Just enough to settle the dust, indeed.

We've had so many of these storms approach this year, and no, we don't need the hail or high winds some of them have produced, but the waiting is torture.  For some inexplicable reason, I planted twenty-five pots of annuals and have them strewn all over the gardens.  I can be sound asleep with my Darth Vader Sleep Apnea Mask strapped tight to my face and still hear a peal of thunder or see a flash of lightning ten miles away.  And then I immediately think of my potted plants.  Oh, my, I don't want to see them destroyed.  So off comes the mask, on goes the shoes and out I go to gather up my pretties using the distant lightning as a flashlight and the thunder as a warning growl to move a little faster.  The problem is, my garage is not big enough to hold all of them.  So I have to find alternate places for shelter such as the dome, gazebo and front porch.

I've left this urn of 'Bubblegum' petunias in the shade all week.  They seem to be thankful for the break from the heat.
I have four big lightshade planters this year in the driveway filled with my seedlings.  They are so clumsy to carry because the petunias have filled out so much making it almost impossible not to crush.
And then there's Ernie...well, I cannot move that big guy but how I hate to see the flowers get hammered.  So Carl came up with an ingenious idea...since the petunias are planted in a big plastic tub with rope handles, we can slide a hoe handle in through one of the loops straight thru the flowers to the other handle and then, between the two of us, we can hoist the bucket out of Ernie and on to safety.  But it takes two of us.  Which means I have to get Carl to help me.  If it's 3AM I won't bother him, but if he doesn't have to work the next day, I will. 

From talking to other gardening friends, I know I'm not the only nut out there in potentially dangerous conditions toting plants to safety.  I talked to my friend Brenda who owns a greenhouse a month ago and our conversation turned to storms.  She told me she does the same thing with literally dozens and DOZENS of potted plants whenever a rough storm comes up.  One night a few years ago, a close thunderclap startled her and she slipped on her way into the garage with a planter, falling and tearing her rotator cuff.  The things we do for our flowers.  (Oh, she's recovered now, but still brings her flowers in.)  If you saw her arrangements, you'd know why, they are spectacular.

 There are two more 'Bubblegum' petunia pots out by the road, too.  Dang, they are heavy.

West side of driveway

East side
 The tree grates are working out pretty well so far.  I have planted some hyacinth beans in the ground in front of them and the beans are just starting to climb the grating.  I'm amazed the beans don't burn from the extreme heat of the metal grating, but so far, they're doing fine.
I think the driveway is my favorite part of the garden this year.  Everything else planted in the ground is struggling.  (And the gravel doesn't grow any weeds, ha.)

The urns up against the white siding take a beating from the reflected heat.
On beyond Ernie, there are five more potted Bubblegums on the fence posts.  Yup, they all have to come in.

Can't you envision me running around in my nightgown and Birkenstocks at 3Am with the lightning flashing trying to tote the silly plants to safety?  I do more than walk, walk, walk then, let me tell you!  Leslie Sansone would be proud.

These two urns have five gallon pails in them, all I have to do is grab the handles which I left in an upright position when I planted the flowers and grab the pails. 

There's two more over here, but that higher plant stand is really difficult to get the planter out of, so it stays.
This old urn is too heavy to move, so it stays put.  The purslane is pretty tough, though.
It's just been starting to bloom.  I think I fertilized it too much, not many blooms, but scads of leaves.

As always in drought spells, the pond in the Quarry is going down.  Nothing we can do about it, no matter how much we wish there was.  The waterlilies are still hanging on, though.
The hot, dry weather is pushing all the flowers to bloom at once very early in the season.  It's a shame, in a way. 
I took the above picture on Thursday night......notice the lilies are just starting to open.

Look at Friday morning:

In the high heat, the buds are all bursting open almost simultaneously and on some, the buds are browning and drying up before they have a chance to bloom.  I've been picking stems for the house and for my mother as they just don't last long in the extreme temperatures. 
The daylilies and coneflowers are going berserk too.  Normally, I love to go out in the morning and deadhead the daylily blooms to I can enjoy all the plants at the same time as cleaning the garden up, but it's been so blasted hot that all I do is move hoses from one place to the next and no time leftover to admire the flowers.

Maybe this weekend we'll get some rain?  Ooops, I guess not.....I just looked at the radar again.  All the rain is going north.  It's just not our time. 

But wait a the forecast has been raised from a 40% chance to a 60% chance for our area before 4AM.  Hmmmmmmm..........

Should I haul all the potted plants in before I go to bed?  Let's see, it's already 2:40AM.  And sadly, I've hauled them all in five times in the last month and nary a drip of rain fell when they were sheltered.

Aw, phooey.

Maybe I'll just leave them out for bait.


Sue said...

Sometimes you have to tempt the rain---leave them as just might work.
I sprayed all my chomped down flowers with deer repellent. We got the only rain for the month that very night. Whatever works, I say...........

Anonymous said...

I think I know where all your rain is ....Here!! Please take it back I have had enough of this liquid sunshine. It's so depressing here… oh for some warm sunshine. My garden is suffering from drowning! It’s lovely to see your flowers. Mine are extremely poor. I don’t even have any pots or hanging baskets this year :0( still running round like headless chickens with the family things. Next year I keep telling myself.

FlowerLady said...

Dear Karen ~ Baiting seems to work sometimes, so maybe leaving the bigger urns out will do the trick.

In spite of no rain, everything looks GREAT there. I love all of your flower filled planters, it all looks so pretty and wonderful. You all have worked hard for this beauty and I can see why you look forward to the blooms each year.

Hope you get some rain soon.

Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

Junebug said...

I'd say your garden looks beautiful with no rain. I'm sure it is a chore dragging hoses to water. We thankfully have had 5 whole days without rain, Yeah! Our weatherman said June was the third wettest in history and I wasn't alive for the first two. Isn't mother nature strange? She seem to do her own thing! Let's hope our rain is headed your direction. I'd do the rain dance for you but I'm afraid it might come back to me. So glad to hear from you today!!! Hugs!!

Backacre said...

I sympathize! This is the weather we had the whole summer in Texas last year. See you are still wearing "the mask". Husband was just told he will need to do this. We are anxious.

Alison said...

I can't imagine bringing potted plants into shelter out of the rain here in this part of the country. We get lots of rain and wind but seldom get thunderstorms. I hope you get some rain and some relief from the heat soon. It's great to see a post from you, and your garden looks wonderful!

Lona said...

Girl the things we do for our plants. LOL! Okay I am drooling again over your Bubblegum petunias. I looked for them here this spring but no one had them again. That is clever to plant in buckets and then set them into your urns.It was 90 degrees here this morning at ten am when I was watering and it has now reached 100. That is just not done in Ohio. LOL! The cistern water that I use to water my garden ran out yesterday so now it is well water. The plants do not like it.If we do not get some relief I am afraid I will be losing some plants.Quite a bit of difference that when your pond was too full last year. Hang in there.

Randy Emmitt said...

Those petunias look great! It does look very dry there the quarry, oh my.
Today we tied the all time record set last summer of 5 days in a row over 100 degrees. 102 today and expected tomorrow for a new all time record(global warming for sure). Last night we ate dinner 15 minutes from here it rained for a good 30 minutes very hard, not a drop at home...

Indie said...

If you leave them all out there, it will probably rain!

It's been record-setting here - several days of 105 degree weather. One of the roads nearby even buckled. Now we are thankfully getting rain, though in huge bizarre lightning storms. At my husband's work it was raining golfball sized hail!

Your planters are gorgeous. Wishing you some rain (without the hail)!

El Gaucho said...

So sorry to hear of the dry weather in your area, it's been a pretty weird summer of weather, and probably only going to get weirder. You've obviously done a heck of a job hauling hoses around since your yard looks pretty good considering everything you've been through.

I always seem to imagine a giant dome (like in the Simpsons movie) that sits over our town and deflects all the incoming rain. Normally we frequently experience the same "almost rain" that you've become familiar with, but this year we've been sopping wet. There's hardly been a day dry enough to cut the grass here in North Dakota, very strange.

Here's hoping that you get some rain pretty soon!!

Toni - Signature Gardens said...

Sounds like you're getting a taste of our Texas summers. I feel for you!! I cannot believe you haul in those potted plants every time it storms. I never protect my potted plants; I just let them get the rain. Is it any different if the rain falls on the plants in the ground as opposed to the ones in the pots? Save your back! You'll need it for Castle building :-) Any progress in that department??

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Can you believe this weather? I am finding out that the lilies do withstand the heat as does that Bubblegum petunia. Your garden looks great even with the heat.

We will be in a tropical enviornment soon!


africanaussie said...

Gosh your garden is looking spectacular! You work so hard at it and it pays off - out at 3am - moving pots - I would not be doing that! Just take care of your back moving all those heavy pots. Those entrance gardens look so lovely and inviting. I hope you get some rain soon and can sit back and enjoy the garden instead of all the hard slogging.

Beth said...

Your containers look lovely, Karen. Praying for rain for all of us who need it. Thank God it is cooler today. Gardening, or any outdoor activities, in 90 degree plus heat is not enjoyable.

Missy said...

I agree with everyone who has said to leave the pots out and tempt the rain. But then, I suppose I haven't gone to the same trouble you do to raise them.
When we wish it would rain we wash the car or leave the washing on the line. It works sometimes.

Mac_fromAustralia said...

Sorry to hear about your, and everyone's, weather woes. I hope things improve soon.