Farming Woes in Arkansas

June 18, 2012
Ron Klinefelter

You’d think I would have learned my lesson after last years’ terrific heat and drought wreaked havoc on every attempt at growing things. Nevertheless, we had such an unusually warm winter (still not much moisture) that I gave it another go.  But so far, this spring that never was is proving to be equally disturbing.

It turned out VERY warm and dry. I keep rainfall records, and in ALL of April, and ALL of May, normally our really wet months, we only got 2.4 inches, and it took 4 separate rains to do it, To add insult to injury, the temperatures were often above our 30 year “normal”, June has not turned out to be any better. It seems like someone turned up the heat, and we only had two rains: one was an inch that came so hard and fast that much of it ran off. It was also accompanied by 2 minutes of almost marble sized hail. The other was a quarter inch, which in this 90 degree heat is gone in a couple of hours.

I’m spending two to three hours per day watering, just to keep stuff going, and quite frankly, the only thing that is saving my garden is the 14 truckloads of tub grinder mulch that I hauled early this spring.I put it 6 inches thick around every plant, but we haven’t had enough rain at one time to soak even all the way through to reach the soil. There is no chance of rain in the 7 day forecast, and temps in the nineties, with south winds. By this weekend, mid 90’s with it only “cooling down” to the mid 70’s at night. The humidity has only compounded the problem. When you come in at night, you feel like someone has poured motor oil all over you.

So, we are going into summer extremely dry- probably down at least 10 or 12 inches of rainfall from what we should be having in a “normal” year. My spring fed creek is already as low as it usually gets in August.

A couple of other observations that are extremely disturbing. I have these plants called Angel Trumpets that come back year after year from seed. They are kin to moonflowers, and load down with 20 to 30 big white fragrant blooms per plant  that open every night.

In past years, the honey bees would be so thick, working them, that you could hear them buzzing 20 feet away. We looked in all the blooms on a couple of plants the other night, and there was NOT ONE honey bee! The only thing pollinating my entire garden are some wild bumble bees, or else there would be very little food. Also, I have had mums in full bloom for over a month now, that shouldn’t even be beginning to bloom till Sept./Oct. Since their blooming is triggered by the day length getting shorter, something is definitely badly wrong.

It appears that market gardening has become a bigger challenge that ever before, and we need to use every strategy available to us…..deep mulching, deep watering, shade cloths where practical, and I am doing trials for The Power Hour on foliar feeding with minerals from a prehistoric seabed that are being mined in Utah, to give the plants every possible edge.

HOLLY NOTE: Rock dust is an integral ingredient in Super Soil, which I wrote about 3 years ago in Garden Gold. In it I shared the story about a farmer friend of ours in Victoria, AU, who revealed the wonders of this magic soil ingredient. Since then, Stan and I have added rock dust to our gardens and the replaced the lost minerals makes an astonishing improvement. An excerpt from Garden Gold: our soil is so depleted of minerals compared to 50 years ago, to get the same amount of nutrients from a single carrot consumed then, you would now need to eat 6 carrots to get the same amount of vitamins.

It's not the easiest product to find and often it must be special ordered or purchased online. Garden Gold has many sources where to find this invaluable ingredient to add to your home gardens.

But still, it  takes a heavy  emotional toll, as I water each evening, seeing the plants struggling in the heat and drought, and looking up into the sky where in previous years you would see several bats swooping back and forth, eating the mosquitos, and now having seen only one all season, I just say “ Lord, are we ever going to get enough rain”?