A soft, Sunday morning, gentle patter of July rain. During early hours 4/10” fell onto a soil already softened from an unusual first 10 days of just under a foot of rain.
At the time of this posting (24 July) our east Asheville microclimate in the southern Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina, has received 15.1″. To date, we have received 50.3″: more than our total yearly average of rainfall.
In my memory of 38 seasons of living in western NC, (several of which I was working seasonally in Alaska on a wide range of field biology projects), July is often a dry, hot month: deep cracks in our clay soil; hand watering the root zones of plants to keep them alive; negotiating with the weather elementals for moisture.
How nice, for the first time in my memory, to have enough rain that water is no longer (at this moment) a limiting factor in plant growth!
Always though, as one door opens, another closes.
Barefoot Garden’s limiting factor now, is enough heat, sun, and dry conditions to enable many of our annuals to perform their magic.
This year we eliminated the one remaining hybrid plant (Carmen sweet, red pepper) since, as truly wonderful as it is, we cannot save the seed. We replaced it with 2 similar varieties of open pollinated pepper: Corno di Torro and Red Marconi.
These, along with Fife Creek Cowhorn Okra, Red Eyed Peas, Hopi Blue corn, as well as our several varieties of tomatoes, all require hot, sunny conditions.
With rain no longer a limiting factor, the plants are all growing very well (incredibly so) yet flowering and fruit development is so far minimal.
Our polyculture guild of tomatoes, basil, cucumber, sweet pepper, okra, red eyed pea and magenta lambsquarters is a full, lush, textured sea of green.
We are keeping ourselves “nutrified” and lip-smackingly happy with the abundant lambsquarters and Stinging Nettle greens. Cucumbers (Little Leaf and Lemon) are starting to come indoors with us; all several tomato varieties (saved seed) have plenty of green fruit, and the rest are luscious in growth, and minimally fruiting.
Cherokee Trail of Tears beans and Red Noodle beans are 5 ‘ up their respective trellises. Hopi Blue corn and last seasons’ self sowed sweet corn are thigh-high. Winter squashes (var. mochata) are looking better than ever before; some on 7’ trellises, some horizontal on the ground.
At this mid-summer time, grapes (Foch and Concord, as well as muscadines) are off the charts abundant. It remains to be seen if the fruit specialist birds (Catbirds, Thrashers, and Robins), squirrels, raccoons, possums, and bears will leave us a fair share…