Rain Tonight? Yes, Please!


Yeah, I can’t believe I’m saying it either, what with deluge after deluge earlier this month.

But then it stopped, and with high temperatures and our ever-present South Dakota winds, things dried out fast.

I actually started watering again a couple of days ago–all the newer transplants and direct-sown crops (basil seedlings mostly–and shell beans and melons and cukes to replace what didn’t germinate) got some moisture-love, and then I started on the squashes and tomatoes and peppers and everything else that looked like it could use some irrigation.

The dill and cilantro are blooming, which brings a lot of beneficial insects and pollinators into the gardens, in addition to being pretty.

When I’m not watering, I’m weeding.  Or mowing the weedy aisles that got too far ahead during the monsoons for the hoe to handle.  The strawberries, particularly, went from being a tidy little fruitful patch to a grass-infested hide-and-seek game.

I’ve spent about fifteen or twenty minutes in that patch every time I’m out there–pulling clumps of grass and trying to at least get everything that’s starting to form a seedhead.  And picking and eating what few ripe morsels of fruit I find as I go.

Yesterday, H was out with me–working on pruning and cleaning out weeds from around his grapevines, which are looking better this year thanks to a newly-configured deer fence.  I was pretty much eating all the strawberries I found, and then I started feeling a little guilty because he was right over there, and he wasn’t getting any.

H in the grapes, eating strawberries

But, you know, it was such a short distance for the strawberry to get from the plant into my mouth, and such a long way across the garden (well, halfway across) to H.  Still, I stopped weeding and eating for a minute and brought him a few.

I’ve got a few varieties of tomato setting on decent quantities of fruit–two are in pretty close competition–Stupice (a Czech variety that is early, yet productive throughout the season) and Millett’s Dakota (not advertised as super-early, but it’s hanging in there).

Stupice is a variety I’ve grown for three years now, and I’m really fond of it.  It bears earlier in my gardens than many of the early determinate varieties I’ve tried, the flavor is very good for an early-bird, too.

But it is a potato-leaf tomato (so is Brandywine, a popular heirloom), and according to Suzanne Ashworth’s Seed to Seed, the shape of potato-leaf tomato flowers means they will out-cross more easily with other varieties–making it harder to save seed that will breed true.

Stupice in the field

Millett’s Dakota is a new-to-me-this-year variety (from Skyfire Garden Seeds), and it is supposed to be very productive and flavorful–a good canner, but also nice for fresh eating.

The name suggests it will do well in this area, and it’s got the regular leaves (a quick Google search yielded no scientific name for the “normal” non-potato-leaf tomatoes), indicating it’ll be easier to save seeds.

What I didn’t know was that it seems to be an early variety–not quite as quick as Stupice, but it’s definitely in the race.

Millett's Dakota in the field

Even though I’ve gone through and watered all the tomatoes thoroughly, and removed any little piece of foliage that in any way looked like it might be diseased (relegating those scraps to the burn pile), a good rain is what they really need right now–one that washes the dust off the leaves and soaks down to the very tips of the entire root system.

That rain (which is forecast for tonight and tomorrow as well) will also make it easier to hand-pull the rest of that grass in the strawberry patch, as well as the lambs quarter that has got out of hand along a couple of the pea trellises.

The only thing about it I’m not looking forward to is a fresh hatch of mosquitoes.  Bring on the DEET!

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mary on July 3, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    DEET indeed! I’ve considered it, but just can’t bring myself to slather poison on my skin. Instead, I use Cedar Oil, which works pretty well (except when I drive my 4-wheeler into a field that’s waist high in grass–those swarms would enjoy drinking DEET and laughing in my face while they do it).

  2. Posted by flyingtomato on July 3, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Mary–

    Yes, we pay a price in keeping all those wild places on our farm for the native pollinators, other beneficial insects, and various critters–that is habitat enjoyed also by mosquitoes. I have suggested to H that we look into the Bt mosquito “dunks” that are used extensively on the East Coast, but I fear what happens is we breed “super mosquitoes” doing that too often. I’m not sure they aren’t super mosquitoes already! But, we are going out to brave the bugs to set off last year’s fireworks tonight, so we can perhaps pick up a few more tomorrow. Ahh, the allure of explosives…

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