Tuesday, August 30, 2011


There's no way to pretty it up out here. It's hot. And it's Dry. (Yes, that's with a capital D.)

Last Friday I decided to take a closeup of one of the many cracks in the soil out in the Back 5. The phone is just for scale.

Yesterday I grabbed one of the orange flags that I mark plants with, using it to measure the depth of a few of the cracks that I found during my walk. When I got back to the house, I measured the wire "stem" - it was 20" long. Results: Out of 6 large cracks that I measured, 3 of them swallowed my wire stem and I couldn't feel any bottom, 1 crack was about 16" deep, and the final 2 were about 12" deep.

So 50% of my (admittedly small sample size of) soil cracks were over 20" deep.

At least the water will be able to get to the subsoil rapidly, if and when we ever get some rain.

My tallgrass (Indian grass and big bluestem) is about knee height. Here's a photo of Blue sitting by one of the solitary clumps a couple weeks ago. The clump looks much worse than that now. (The orange flag is like the one I used to measure the depth of the soil cracks.)

The giant ragweed, normally well above my head, is currently waist high, on average, even in the draw. It has started to bloom, so it probably won't be getting any taller this year.

On the plus side, the false boneset (Brickellia eupatorioides) has started to bloom. I have more of it than I've ever seen out back before. I can't tell whether false boneset is a wind pollinated or an insect pollinated species - I've never seen any insects on it, but the bloom is certainly showier than, say, ragweed, which is a typical wind-pollinated flower.

Reading up a bit on false boneset, I noted that its taproot is known to grow to 16' deep. Putting down deep roots makes all the difference in the world when dealing with the vicissitudes of life, especially on the prairie.

We did get our first rain in almost 2 weeks last night: less than 0.05" in the rain gauge. (That's less than 1/20th of an inch, for those who may need the decimal translated.) My shoes were barely damp as I walked around this morning. We're due to be back up to 100 and above for the next 4 days too.

Forgive me while I say, once again, that I'm SOO glad I'm not a settler or subsistence farmer these days. I also have to express my gratitude for air conditioners. Life would be miserable here without them. Even with them, this year has become an endurance contest for gardeners.


ProfessorRoush said...

I agree, I'm constantly amazed that anybody survived here on subsistence farming...there's a reason it is also called the Great American Desert.

~Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

Yikes on those cracks!

Mother Nature's Garden said...

I'm glad for your tiny bit of relief from the drought. Sooner or later the rain will come. ..hopefully, sooner.

Patrick's Garden said...

Sorry to hear of your continued woes. We've had a tough time in Shawnee, KS But not like you.
Here's hoping some good rain comes you way then out to me. Hang in there.

Gaia Gardener: said...

Thanks for the good wishes, folks! Today is Sept. 4 and we finally broke out of the 100+ streak of temperatures overnight. We got 1/4" of rain last night, too, which is wonderful...but I'm not rejoicing yet, as there is no more predicted in the foreseeable future. At least the temperatures won't be as stressful.

Melanie said...

Many times this summer I have also thought back in time and thanked God that at least we can find some cool comfort from the dry, scorching wind and heat! WOW! We were pleased to get nearly 1/2 inch Sunday morning, early!! We take every drop we can get!