I was not the only one in my garden that was feeling stressed this summer. I had a wonderful array of starts from seeds planted indoors in trays including peppers, tomatoes, basil, celery, and leeks. They all landed on the deck when the weather warmed up enough and then unfortunately, never made it into the ground in a timely manner.
The deck became much too hot an environment and I lost the celery and leeks. The tomatoes and peppers ultimately produced well and for the first time in a long time there was no tomato blight. Still, had they been planted sooner, I think the crop would have been enormous. There was plenty of basil though not a lush crop by any means.
My stress came from seeing the stressful conditions they were enduring without my being able to attend to their needs.
The same was true for the hardy vegetables (cabbages, kale, broccoli, etc.) I planted directly in the ground from seed, way back in March. They too were allowed to sit too long before transplanting and had the additional burden of being crowded out by weeds. Again most recovered and have done quite well considering, but probably would have done much better much sooner had they not had the added stress of crowding for so long.
The real heartbreak though was the rice crop. Last year, from seeding to harvest, everything progressed quite naturally. This year, because of the lack of time, I scattered the seed pretty tightly in a bed prone to crab grass weeds. I was hoping to crowd out the weeds by sowing so densely.
The rice took off like gang busters and soon the whole bed was thick with rice seedlings. However I had to prepare more area to receive the seedlings, which kept getting delayed. I noticed that, compared to last year, the seedlings were much more yellow-green in color and when I went to transplant found that the crab-grass managed to mix in with the already dense planting, making the transplanting a much slower process as I separated out the rice seedlings from the grass.
All in all, I remained hopeful after transplanting, but as time went on, noticed that the seedlings were not taking off like they did after last season’s transplanting. It took a long time for the plants to turn darker green and only a handful of plants reached anything close to full size.
I was beginning to think all was lost, but then some rice stalks started to emerge. I wouldn’t characterize it as abundant, but given how much larger an area I had planted, I was beginning to feel as though I would end up with about the same amount of seed as I started with this year. Grateful that I would be able to at least have a second chance, I relaxed and let things take their course.
It is now October 23 and I am planning to harvest this week, about a month and a half later than I normally would be harvesting rice. However, I started late, the plants were stressed by overcrowding and weed competition and the weather has been pretty mild, so I decided to give them as much time as possible to mature.
The healthiest plants, though nowhere nearly as large a last year’s plants, have a good number of grains and are characteristically drooping, ready for harvest. What I find interesting, though, is that the less healthy plants are trying their little hearts out, even it it means only producing a couple of grains. Those grains are no different than the one’s from the healthy plants, just fewer in number.
I’ll show some photos of the harvest stalks and in another month after they have cured and been threshed and winnowed, I’ll take some photos of the final product.
Perhaps next season, I’ll be more careful not to get ahead of myself.