Friday, August 23, 2013

To Thrive or Not to Thrive

That is the question!  Growing plants either commercially or decoratively is always at the mercy of the weather.  Here’s where you say, “DUH!” 

We know if we don’t get rain, things don’t grow and many die.  If we get too much rain or at the wrong times, things can rot and many die.  Throw in crazy winds, hail and other calamities and we’re talking serious plant failures.

I’ve found for every odd weather event, there’s a plant out there loving the conditions.  And, another performing poorly.  It’s not just the Midwest, although we are the bread basket of the world.  Every area that has crops and residential yards is held in the “mother nature” grasp of weather related issues.

The plentiful early spring rains brought us out of drought and many plants responded by a return to growth and health.  Although many farm fields had some flooding related loss, the crops are perhaps the most beautiful I’ve seen in years.  This is in spite of the moisture related insect population explosion.

Plants that tend to have mildew suffered spring damage but most have improved with the dry weather of summer/fall.

Daylilies suffered last summer more than they showed and even though the early rains improved their conditions, they have not performed up to potential this year.  Not as many scapes or buds and most haven’t rebloomed. 

Japanese Beetle populations “seem” to be down this year and it’s been attributed to the massive rains smothering the larva.  We can only hope.

Green beans are having a banner year while tomatoes are slow to turn ripe due to the lack of hot days and nights.  My cabbages look like huge ruffled flying saucers while my pepper plants have just started to produce.

Some Hostas are drying up because of the lack of moisture especially if they get any direct sun.  They enjoyed the early spring rains but demand moisture though out the summer to be perfect.

Some plants will perform well if they have just the early spring rains:  Hydrangea, honeysuckle, maple trees, horseradish, spirea bushes, ornamental grasses, yucca, Blackeyed Susan, to name a few.

Weather related tolerance is why we recommend a variety of plants for your gardens.  Something will always be happy even when something else pouts.  Having a series of plants blooming from early spring to frost insures your yards will be full and beautiful.

As far as gardening, sometimes you have to deep water to have continued produce.  Sometimes you simply have to deal with late production. 

I do want to mention one good alternative if your garden isn’t producing what you need:  Beagle Creek Farm (find them on facebook and at ) is organically grown produce from Sarah Hahn.  Order on a Sunday on facebook and pick up either at the farm or in downtown Galva on Tuesdays.  I’ve had the most fun with some of their heirloom vegetables including some wonderful beets. 

Pickled Beets
This recipe for “pickled beets” has been passed down over the generations in my Shenk family:

Cut tops and root ends off clean beets.  Cover with water and bring to a boil.  Simmer until tender.  Cool enough to handle and slip off skins/discard skins.  Slice beets.

Pour out cooking water and add enough white vinegar and sugar in the same pan to cover the beets..  Use more if you are cooking lots of beets.  Add 1/2 teaspoon each cloves and salt and 1 teaspoon dill weed.  (Add more if you are cooking quantities.)  Add sliced beets, bring to a boil and let simmer on low for 10 minutes.  Cool (do not drain) and refrigerate over night to blend flavors.  My family always added to the cooled mixture several peeled whole hard cooked eggs.  Every time you get in the refrigerator, swish mixture around to allow the flavors to touch it all.

I use these pickled beets as a side dish or they add zip to potato and pasta salads.

Enjoy the bounty of what’s producing this year; next year it may be a whole new weather and growing experience.



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