Welcome back, everyone. Hope you had a great July 4th weekend.
Today’s New River Valley Current features an article about how the weather so far this year has caused a lot of problems for farmers. My favorite line in the story by freelancer Jane W. Graham is “Some years are known for drought or floods or hail or wind. So far, 2011 is known for all of that.”
If you were anywhere near those storms that rolled through this area yesterday, you know we saw three out of the four in just a few hours’ time. I believe some of the worst of that storm came through Northwest Roanoke, where I live. Some 75 mph wind gusts were measured at the airport, which makes sense considering that I watched the 4-story pine tree in my backyard trying to bend over and touch its toes. We also got a lot of hail and waves of hard rain.
The whole time, I was watching my tomato plants and my squash plants in the garden, hoping they weren’t being too badly battered by that hail and wind. The water would be good for them (we all love it when we can skip a watering day), but after all the hard work I’ve done out in the hot sun, I would’ve been highly annoyed to find broken plants.
And my tiny garden is nothing compared to the fields and fields of crops tended by farmers in Southwest Virginia. The farmer featured in Graham’s article, Chuck Shorter of Montgomery County, said he had to cut hay about three weeks behind schedule and lost blueberries, peas, kale and cabbage to heavy rains. It is a little cruel when a farmer has to pray for rain, then sees it come in such fast, heavy downpours that it only runs off and causes damage or flooding. Be careful what you wish for, I reckon.
I’ve always heard that if a gardener gets a ripe tomato in Southwest Virginia before July 4th, that’s really something to brag about. Mine are still as green as the weeds I need to pull out of my garden. Despite the fickle weather, has anybody out there pulled a red tomato off your vines? If so, go ahead and brag, but also tell us if you’ve got any secrets for the rest of us.